By WVUA 23 Web Writer Makenna Cross
Joshua Williams, a doctoral student at the University of Alabama, won first place in the 2017 International Horn Competition held in September.
Williams first picked up a French horn as a seventh-grader at Hillcrest Middle School. It wasn’t long before he made music, and the horn, his career.
“I’ve just grown with instrument over the past however many years,” Williams said. “It really means a lot to me.”
The competition is the equivalent of a national championship in sports. It brings the best horn players from across the world together to compete. No student player has ever won the professional division of this competition before.
Though Williams is now an accomplished player, he came from much more humble beginnings.
“The first time I played the horn, the worst sound I’ve ever heard in the world came out,” Williams said. “My mom came into the room. (She) made fun of me for a couple of hours.”
Williams’ parents stopped closing the door while he was practicing after a year. It was this progression, the ability to constantly improve and get better, that made him love the instrument.
“Whenever you get better at something it makes you just want to do it more and I think that’s what really drew me to the horn,” Williams said. “Just the constant progression over time.”
Williams spends two to three hours a day practicing, and spent 6 practicing for the competition.
“Performing is one of the best feelings ever for me so I think the preparation just sort of helps you in that moment just relax and make music,” Williams said.
Williams’ teacher, Charles “Skip” Snead, has worked with him and watch him grow since he was 15.
“When he first came to me in the ninth grade, when I first heard him play, there was no doubt that he was an extraordinary talent,” Snead said. “Josh has always been a very quiet young man. He never had a lot to say about himself, but never really needed to.What he said with his horn was always more than everything anybody needed to know.”