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Learning Art of Music Enhances Andrews’ Passion

Wednesday, October 6, 2021


Navin AndrewsNavin Andrews has lived a life filled with adventure and experiences. A constant has always been music.

Andrews, 74, who grew up in India, has played musical instruments since he was a child.

“From the time I was young, I learned music by ear, and I could play almost any hymns and choruses, but not any more since I lost my hearing considerably,” he said. “When I was about six years old, I started with the harmonica. I also use to play a harmonium, which is an Indian instrument.”

Later he would teach himself to play guitar and the accordion as well. His latest passion for the piano came a few years ago when he finally had the time to learn it properly, and St. Louis Community College-Forest Park offered the classes he was seeking.

Andrews has always played for his family and friends, at his church, and wherever else he was needed. But it was always a side gig for him.

His career and family kept him busy. He was in the publishing business, and after arriving in Philadelphia from India in 1989, he made stops in Illinois and Nebraska before landing in St. Louis in 1999. He spent another 20 years in the workforce before retiring in 2019.

Then Andrews found something that he hadn’t had before: time on his hands.

That’s when he came to STLCC. Andrews wanted to turn his life-long love of music, which he had learned to play solely by ear, into a more formalized understanding of the art, including the ability to read music. This goal was also important because as he aged, his hearing was faltering.

“Music was my hobby,” he said. “When I retired, I thought if I learned the music the right way and the theory behind it, I could continue to play it even if I couldn’t hear properly.”

Adjunct music instructor Catherine Burge, DMA, said Andrews epitomizes the life-long learner the College wants to reach. She said Andrews insisted on being graded for the classes even though he wasn’t working toward a degree because it was important to him to know if he was meeting expectations.

There was no question during the four classes Andrews took at Forest Park that he was.

“Oh, my goodness, yes,” Burge said. “Generally, an A+ student. He didn’t want to play something unless it was perfect. If there was something that he struggled with, he focused on learning it so he could tackle it.”

Andrews left STLCC after his fourth piano class in fall 2020. He opted not to continue his studies as his wife and mother needed his care. Although he is no longer a student, he is appreciative of the experience he had and the skills he gained.

“It was great for my self-satisfaction to know that I can learn something new at my age,” Andrews said. “It was a sense of accomplishment. I didn’t know the greats, but to be able to play their music is a great thing.”

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