MINOT — Just three months after Jon Tuttle played his first notes on a stand-up bass, the 16-year-old Minot musician auditioned for a spot in Maine’s prestigious All-State Orchestra.

“You should do this,” Hebron Academy music teacher John Lawson told him. “You’ll be fine.”

Even before he played, his hands ached from carrying the canoe-sized instrument down a long high school corridor. His hands turned clammy and he began to sweat.

For about 15 minutes, the rookie bassist played for a pair of judges. He performed a prepared piece. Then he played something he’d never seen, meant to test his skill without practice.

“I didn’t think I could do it,” Tuttle said. “I guess Mr. Lawson was right.”

He was.

The Hebron Academy sophomore not only made it into the orchestra, he scored the highest of all the bassists who auditioned.

On Saturday, he’ll perform alongside the best high school musicians and singers in Maine at the 2013 All State Festival, to be held at the University of Southern Maine and Windham High School.

“I’m excited,” Tuttle said.

In part, he’s looking forward to the music, but he’s also looking forward to the company.

That’s why he took up the bass, after all.

Since he was a kid of just 5 or 6, Jon has been playing music. His mother, Emily Tuttle, insisted that he learn piano.

Soon, he loved it. He still does, fitting in piano lessons and daily hourlong practices around academics, sports (he belongs to the track team and plays soccer) and the bass.

He feels at home with the piano, but it has drawbacks.

“When you’re playing piano, you’re playing by yourself,” he said. “I want to play with people.”

That’s why he took up the violin in the fifth grade.

On the violin, he lasted for three middling years. The sound never quiet agreed with him, and he cared little for the instrument. He also felt like he might never excel at it.

“I found that there are a lot of violinists,” he said.

So, he took a left turn. He took up the electric bass, began lessons with a musician his mother knew, and even played with some buddies.

“I wanted to play rock,” he said. He and the others noodled around on Beatles tunes, but they never played a gig. “We weren’t really a band.”

That’s when Jon hit the stand-up bass.

His background helped a lot.

“Starting with the piano gave me a really good foundation for other instruments,” he said. He learned to read music. He learned theory. And he learned discipline over so many hours on the upright piano in his living room.

Last month, Jon was named to the area’s Honors Jazz Festival with the bass. He’s begun contemplating college and a possible music-related major that would draw on all of his instrumental background.

The hopes the bass will be part of it.

“I’ve progressed quickly so far, (but) I don’t know if that pace will keep up,” he said. “I like the instrument. I like that role in music. It suits me well, I guess.”

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