Charles Henderson High sophomore loves music, plays 14 instruments

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Blake Weston is a prime example of how improving natural talent can open wide the doors of possibility and opportunity.

Weston is a tenth-grader at Charles Henderson High School and attended All-State band April 10-12.

He plays the clarinet and was named first-chair clarinet in the Red Band, the highest honor band level at All-State. It also made him the best clarinet player in Alabama.

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"It was pretty competitive," Weston said.

"It's almost cut-throat.

You have the top five percent in the state there."

Weston is also first-chair in the Montgomery Youth Orchestra and often sits in with Troy State University graduate students and professors during the summer.

When TSU presented Carmina Burana earlier this year, Weston was one of the three clarinet players to play with the orchestra accompanying the choir.

To be invited to play was an honor, considering there were string players from Florida State University and players from the Florida Symphony and the Tallahassee Symphony included in the orchestral ensemble.

"Afterward, people asked me what I'm majoring in or if I'm a master's student," he said.

Weston said one lady even asked him what symphony he worked with.

Needless to say, people are a bit shocked when Weston tells them he's only in high school.

Weston doesn't only excel at the clarinet, though.

His natural affinity for music has allowed him to play 14 different instruments.

"Self-discipline," his mom Cindy named as one of her son's best qualities.

"He's never been made to study or practice his instruments.

He knows what he wants to do and he works really hard at it."

Weston can play the different varieties of clarinets and saxophones, the bassoon, the oboe, the flute, the piccolo and percussion.

He can also play the piano, though he says it isn't his strongest.

"I should probably learn how to play that a little more," he said.

The piano aside, when Weston says he can play 14 different instruments, he doesn't mean he can play a few songs or a few scales on a few woodwinds.

He means he can play everyone well enough to perform at or above his peer level.

Even though the clarinets and the saxophones, the bassoon and the oboe are all similar-looking reed instruments, Weston said each one has its own sound and fingerings.

"They each have a different overtone," he said.

"You have to adjust to each one of them."

Weston said he learned how to play the other instruments because he was curious about them.

"I liked the sounds the other instruments made," he said.

"So I decided to learn them.

I actually learned to play the flute around the same time I learned the clarinet.

My mom's a flute player and she taught me."

So, does he play more instruments than his teacher does?

He shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't know, I think that's a question for Mr. Thomas," his mom said with laugh.

Weston's exceptional talent has made him eligible to apply for the Sound of America Tour, which will travel and perform throughout Europe for one month this summer.

His mother is confident her son will be selected and the two are now turning to ways to come up with the $4,000 Weston needs to make the trip.