ST. CLOUD - A complete natural with classical guitar, St. Cloud Tech High School junior Connor Hanzsek-Brill recently earned a national gold medal for his performances and knowledge of music.

Connor playing guitar at St. Cloud Tech High School. (Dan DeBaun, WJON)

Hanzsek-Brill earned the medal for classical guitar from the Royal Conservatory of Music. He was scored on anything from memorizing pieces, scales, playing patterns, memorization and a music theory test.

Connor was drawn to the guitar in the 1st grade and caught on quickly after lessons. He loves the variety that comes with guitar compared to other instruments.

"You know, you have the piano, which is just note for note in a chromatic scale. But with the guitar, there are many ways to play the same note. The way you play something can vary depending on where you are on the guitar."

Connor tends to play Latin American and French music pieces. He hopes to continue with music or linguistics in college. He's deciding between St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota.

He says his parents always loved music and helped develop his love for it.

"Looking back on it, I feel grateful that I was given such an opportunity because I know that so many people aren't."

His other siblings also grew up playing and performing music, leading to interesting times and never-ending practices at home.

"Sometimes we play or practice together. Mostly it's just me playing in my room, I hear my brothers practicing as well and it's a lot of fun. Annoying-but fun."

Connor says he sometimes suffers from stage fright before performing but is able to fight it off by focusing on the music and by connecting to his audience.

"It's almost like jumping into a pool. At first you don't want to because the water is cold and you can't really go in slowly. You just have to dive in, relax and wait for the water not to be cold."