By Elizabeth Elkin, WVUA 23 Student Reporter
Joshua Williams first picked up a French horn as a seventh grader at Hillcrest Junior High School. It wasn’t long before he started to think about making music, and the horn, his career. He’s never regretted this decision.
“I’ve just grown with instrument over the past however many years,” Williams said. “Yeah, it really means a lot to me.”
Williams, now a University of Alabama doctoral student, just won first place in the 2017 International Horn Competition. This competition is the equivalent of a national championship in sports. It brings the best of the best horn players from around the world together to compete.
Williams was the first student to ever win the professional division of this competition.
“Honestly, it still hasn’t really truly sunk in yet,” he said.
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,” he said. “My mom came into the room and made fun of me for a couple of hours.”
Constant practicing made Williams improve.It was this progression, the ability to constantly get better, that made him love his 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,” he said. “Just the constant progression over time.”
Williams spends two to three hours each day practicing. Before the competition, he practiced six every day. He never gave up, he said, because practicing is the best way to prepare for a performance.
“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,” he 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. “He was a unique young man and clearly had the intellect, the musical aptitude, the necessary skill set, all the ingredients were there.”
Snead said that though Williams was never one for words, his music has always said it all.
“Josh has always been a very quiet young man,” Snead said. “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.”