Local musician teaches love of piano to daughter

Published 12:57 am Monday, May 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — Tony Gordon is most comfortable sitting down — as long as he’s sitting down behind a piano.

Gordon began playing gospel music on the piano by ear at 7 and started playing for a local church at age 10.

When The Dart landed on Tanglewood Road, Gordon was getting ready to play for a banquet for one of those churches.

“My grandmother would only let me play gospel music because that is what she liked,” he said. “When she first heard me play she thought I was reading the music, but I was just playing what I heard.”

In the years since then, he studied music at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Southern Mississippi before coming back home to teach music at Alcorn State University.

But he hasn’t forgotten his musical roots in gospel. He now is the pianist or organist for seven local churches.

“My music teacher in school, Joyce Arceneaux(-Mathis), really instilled in me a passion for music,” Gordon said. “I was able to follow my passion for music all these years.”

Now, Gordon is passing on his passion to his students, especially one in particular.

Gordon just began teaching his 9-year-old daughter, Kirraney Gordon to play the piano.

“I have always thought it was important for her to learn some music, but I wanted it to be her choice,” he said. “We didn’t want to force her to play because then she wouldn’t see the joy in it.”

Kirraney said she enjoys her piano lessons with her dad, but said the process is more difficult than she expected.

“He keeps telling me I need to play with both hands, but right now I play with just two fingers,” she said. “I like it, though.”

For Gordon teaching Kirraney is more than just wanting to pass on one of his passions. He said learning music is an investment in her educational future.

“Studies indicate that students who know some level of music, tend to have better grades,” he said. “Plus listening to and having an appreciation for classical music helps with classroom learning.

Kirraney, a third-grader at McLaurin Elementary School, said her favorite school classes are music and art.

And while Kirraney and her father both say they enjoy the time at the piano or keyboard together, mother Glenda Gordon said there has been some talk about finding Kirraney a piano teacher outside the family.

“He is accustom to teaching students at the college level who already have the basic knowledge he is having to teach her,” she said. “It is different for him.”

But he is setting the example Kirraney hopes to follow.

“I can’t play like he does,” she said, watching her father move quickly up and down the keyboard. “I’m still trying to learn to use my whole hand to play, but one day maybe I’ll be like that.”