Jacob Hernandez has been playing trombone for so long he has to count the years.
"Seven years. I had to make sure," he says after counting on his fingers.
And his hard work is paying off. The Williston High School senior received one of the top awards at the University of Mary Jazz Festival.
"The judge, what he said after he adjudicated my solo, is that he could feel the emotion and expression when I was playing," says Hernandez.
And that, says Williston High School's band director, is exactly the point.
"He literally just poured his heart and soul into his music and the judges felt it. One of my goals in my classroom every year is to connect music to emotions for my students. Because if you can't understand what you're playing or why you're playing it, what are you doing? The whole point of music is to create an emotional connection to your audience," says Eric Rooke, Williston High School Director of Bands.
And Jacob has an emotional connection to music as well.
"It's always been like an escape and something I really enjoy."
Hopefully, something he can enjoy for many more years to come.
Hernandez received a $12,000 scholarship to the University of Mary as part of the award.
But he says he plans to attend the University of Texas where he'll study biology pre-med and possibly minor in music.
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