Hickerson Competing for MTNA Title

October 29, 2018

head shot of Jordan Hickerson
Wayland senior Jordan Hickerson is representing her home state of New Mexico in the MTNA piano competition.

PLAINVIEW – Jordan Hickerson can’t imagine her life without music. It is a love she has fostered since she started playing the piano at age 5. Now a senior at Wayland Baptist University, Hickerson is competing in the Music Teachers National Association student competition.

The MTNA competition is held at the state, divisional and national levels. Hickerson, from Roswell, N.M., has already won her category at the state competition and will represent New Mexico at the Southwest Division contest. For the contest, Hickerson will have to submit a video of her playing an approximately 30-minute program by Dec. 5. The video will be judged and winners will advance to the national competition.

Hickerson will play a number of pieces from composers such as Joseph Hydn, Philip Glass, Domenica Scarlatti and Fédéric Chopin.

While playing pieces from other composers for contest, Hickerson loves to compose her own music. She has played mostly by ear from a young age, taking only a few years of lessons before relying on her own abilities to master the keyboard. Hickerson said music has always given her a place to escape.

“I think it’s the fact that I can put everything I am into it and it is still a challenge,” she said. “I can put all of my emotion in it. I can connect with God through it. I have to use my intelligence to understand the things I’m playing and there are always areas to grow in and improve.”

While music was an important part of her life, Hickerson didn’t know how important it was until she spent 9 months overseas without access to a piano for several of those months. She started college at a community college with the desire to become a graphic designer. Following her associate’s degree, she decided to take part in an extended mission trip in which she spent three months in El Salvador and another three months in Malawi.

“My mom had me in lessons from a young age. I don’t think I really appreciated it until I was older,” Hickerson said. “I didn’t have access to a piano and I realized during that time how much music actually meant to me.”

Hickerson decided to pursue music when she returned to her education. As a child, however, she learned to play predominately by ear and had not spent much time learning to read music. As she was about to register for classes at another school, she hit a major road block.

“I mentioned that I wasn’t the best at reading music and (the advisor) said he wouldn’t register me for classes because I probably wouldn’t make it into the program anyway,” Hickerson said. “I started freaking out because it was the summer right before I was supposed to start classes.”

Hickerson said her mother, who attended Wayland for a year, told her to contact the WBU School of Music.

“I talked to Dr. (Ann) Stutes (Dean of the School of Music) and she said, ‘We just need to hear you play,’” Hickerson said. “Everything just kind of worked out. I think this is definitely where I am supposed to be.”

Her time at Wayland hasn’t been without its challenges, however, as learning how to read music has been difficult. But Hickerson said the extra work has been time well spent and the way the School of Music works its curriculum into every class has accelerated the learning process.

“The things we are learning permeate everything we do,” she said. “So, something we learned in theory class is also applicable in the choir program. It is also applicable in private lessons. (The professors) create an atmosphere that is very connected.”

Hickerson will complete her degree in May 2019. She has started looking at graduate schools and hopes to make a career teaching and performing … perhaps overseas.