Kamoy Gordon pulling on the heartstrings of Jamaica
Violinist wants to make music lessons accessible for all
These days, 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist, music educator and performer Kamoy Gordon has set lists down to a science. A savant on the violin, pulling on the heartstrings of those who were present at the 2022 Live with Flair Luncheon, was probably the easiest task he could have received.
“That’s because I have a repertoire list for each season that I will go to, and choose for the occasion. Sometimes, clients will specify they want cocktail style of music, or more up-tempo genres, but I figure there’s nothing that adds more flair to a performance than a mix of reggae, jazz, classical, and pop music,” the violinist told The Gleaner.
Gordon played over 20 hits across three or more genres on violin, starting off with Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely and closing with Koffee’s Toast. He also injected songs such as You and I by John Legend; A Thousand Years by Christina Perri; She’s Royal by Tarrus Riley; and Smile Jamaica by Chronixx, which earned him resounding praises from the specially invited guests.
Reminiscing about a relative who lost her battle to cancer, Gordon said, “Performing for the survivors definitely brought back a few memories of some of the great moments that I shared with my aunt. Her passing was especially hard because she found out late and by that time, there was little that could have be done. She was an inspiration in my life and a constant source of motivation and support.”
Working through the emotions one piece at a time, he treated the music like medicine, giving the audience dose by dose and allowing them to digest the emotions that come with each melody.
The irony of it all is that the model he applies to playing music – to understand the biology of people, the physics of the space and time persons are in, and the chemistry it involves to engage each individual at different intervals – as well as teaching the art form, is all based on former studies, Gordon said.
“Initially, I saw myself becoming something in the medical field, whether a doctor or a medical technologist, and I ended up getting the grades to move into that direction but I was not passionate about it,” he said. “Like most children, going to your parents with the idea that you’ll be going the non-traditional route is always met with statements like, ‘you better try to be a good one’, and while a career in medicine was a dream of my mother, who was always pushing me to do well, other opportunities presented themselves at an early stage.”
His journey with the violin started while attending the prominent all-boys high school, Kingston College, through the National Youth Orchestra. He thought since the instrument was an infrequent choice among most students, he would perfect skills on the strings. Before graduating, he had already received an opportunity to travel overseas to perform with the group and then later, enrol at Luzerne Music Center in New York.
Gordon shared, “These prospects to learn and perform kept coming; music was opening doors I never imagined, and the events I played at allowed me to meet some great people and professionals in the field. It helped that I was always passionate about music and instruments and was also exposed to playing keyboard and the drums in church.”
The violinist completed the four-year Bachelor in Music Education programme at the Edna Manley College last year and also walked away with several awards, including Most Outstanding Student in Music Education; Most Outstanding Student in Performance, the Chairman’s Award, the Principal’s Award and the Dean’s Award for the School of Music. He has established the Kadon Music Academy and has a team of 10 qualified music educators and over 100 students ranging from the age of five to adults.
Playing the violin is Gordon’s passion, but the mission he explained is to “make music accessible and available even to the common man who is not always able to get these lessons”.
“In our society, there is a struggle with music education in school because of a lack of educators, tools and the time and there are not many institutions like ours that provides programmes at an affordable cost. Of course, there are always private tutors but being part of an academy where you are engaged is unique, especially as it relates to breaking down barriers. I want to change the mindset to ‘possibilities do exist’ and I may not get an income or majority of it from teaching, but for now, I feel satisfaction from making a contribution to national development,” he said.