SHERIDAN — The harmonica is the world’s No. 1 best-selling instrument, followed by guitars. Most would struggle to find someone who can play the instrument proficiently.
Phillip Fauquet is an exception. When it comes to the harmonica, his talent flows seemingly effortlessly, which not much in Fauquet’s life is effortless. Because he is on the autism spectrum, tasks most would take for granted become monstrous obstructions in Fauquet’s day.
Something like shaking someone’s hand when first introducing himself can be a monumental hurdle.
The harmonicist started playing at 3 years old when his grandpa gave him his first harmonica. Fauquet would study his grandfather by ear and learn songs by his side until he started taking conventional classes when he was 10 years old. After being diagnosed with autism at 4, Fauquet found peace within his instrument.
“When I play the harmonica, it has this tone that removes all the stresses away,” Fauquet said.
The instrument has become a comfort to him and Fauquet’s love for the harmonica has elevated his devotion to music.
“He’s a such a dedicated student and he loves the actual instrument and the true genre of music — the blues,” Rick Davis, owner of Memphis Blues Amps and Fauquet’s current teacher said. “I think he’s about to take a big step forward.”
The now 20-year-old was awarded a youth scholarship from the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica. SPAH is a prestigious nonprofit whose goal is to inform everyone on the history and the current happenings of the diverse styles of music from the harmonica.
“I applied because I wanted to get my name out in the harmonica community,” Fauquet said modestly.
Fauquet will be awarded the scholarship in August at a convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Six hundred of the world’s best harmonica players, top recording companies and club bookers will all attend the convention where Fauquet has been asked to perform.
“They’re very discriminating in a very good way,” Davis said. “When they select people for this honor they suspect the youth that they’re inviting are going to be future stars.”
But even with a performance of a lifetime creeping up in August, Fauquet isn’t letting it distract him from the adventure of a lifetime. He has been planning the ultimate road trip with his mom, aunt and uncle since he was offered the scholarship. He’s most excited about stopping in Denver and visiting his cousin.
“I’ve seen Phillip work so hard to become the man he is today,” Lorrie Morris, Fauquet’s aunt said. “It’s been a blessing to be an active part in his life so when he asked us to go, we thought, “What the heck! We can’t miss this.”
Fauquet will be attending the convention Aug 13.