UA graduate and horn player Jordin Andrews used personal experience with cancer to help others


Courtesy UA School of Music

Jordin Andrews (left) celebrates after a concert with his colleagues.

By Alexa Baumberger, Correspondent

During a 2018 scholarship competition, University of Akron horn player Jordin Andrews noticed his body trembling.  

What would follow was nearly a year of frustration and questions after medicine prescribed by his doctor failed to stop his tremors.  

On January 18, 2019, Andrews received a diagnosis. He had a tumor approximately the size of a ripe peach on his Thalamus, the area of the brain responsible for movement.  

His biggest fear? No longer being able to pursue a career in music.  

Jordin Andrews was in fourth grade when he first picked up a trumpet for the school band.  

Immediately interested, he kept playing until the eighth grade, when he eagerly swapped out his trumpet for a horn. Music wasn’t just a hobby to him, but a passion that he hoped to make a career out of. 

Throughout high school at Jackson, Andrews joined the Canton Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Youth Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony, the Cleveland Youth Orchestra, and the OMEA honor band.  

He went on to win his high school’s concerto competition and had the opportunity to travel with the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony in Europe as a soloist.  

After graduating high school, he attended the University of Akron, where he received multiple scholarships. His studies were going well the first couple of years, and he excelled in music theory, every ensemble he joined and every horn competition he entered.

Andrews worked hard to complete his degree, and to survive the tumor that had changed the course of his life. 

One brain surgery, six weeks of radiation therapy, and 13 months of chemotherapy later, Andrews realized he’d gone through too much to give up on his goals. 

Though his career in performance wasn’t looking likely given his illness, he still felt moved to do something for others.  

In an article submitted to the International Horn Society (IHS) before graduating from UA in 2021, Andrews said, “I hope to create a business specifically for musicians who are struggling with a disability, which not only empowers those musicians to keep playing but also helps to find solutions to overcome their disabilities, so that no one feels like they have to give up on music.”  

Andrews’ goal was to create a program combining music with physical therapy, medication, physical accommodations, and doctors. He hoped to collaborate to find solutions for musicians living with health challenges.  

“After a lot of thought, and conversations with my doctors and teachers, I realized that I was in the unique position to help other musicians,” Andrews said. “I want to take what I’ve learned through personal experience and use that knowledge.” 

Andrews’ horn teacher, Dr. Kiirsi Johnson, Senior Lecturer, appreciated his desire to help others. 

“He was very open about his diagnosis and wanted to be sure that what he went through would one day help someone else,” Johnson said. “As a friend and colleague, Jordin saw the true soul of every person. He brought the studio together in a time of transition and was everyone’s most vocal supporter.” 

 Jordin Andrews completed one major goal. In spring of 2021, he graduated from The University of Akron with his Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance.  

Then, in 2022, Jordin Andrews passed away.

 On Nov. 12, 2022, The University of Akron (UA) Horn Choir and UA Community Horn Club performed a concert in memory of Jordin Andrews. The concert was held in Guzzetta Recital Hall and was livestreamed via The University of Akron School of Music YouTube channel.   

 As evidenced by the performance and the creation of a scholarship in his name, his legacy of bringing others together through music will live on. 

 “He was a role model for the studio in every way,” said Johnson. “Jordin approached the horn in a very thoughtful and artistic manner, with attention to detail on the level of a graduate student.” 

 Jordin studied under Johnson in 2019-2020 and she was the person who coordinated the memorial concert for the horn player.  

 The music performed in celebration of Andrews’ life featured many of his favorite composers including Brahms and Basler. The performance also featured an arrangement of Mozart that Andrews himself had begun for  the horn ensemble. Kevin Walters, one of his best friends and a member of the UA horn studio alumni, performed a solo.  

In planning the performance, Dr. Johnson reached out to alumni from Jackson high school and alumni from his time at UA  More than 20 friends and alumni joined to memorialize their colleague and friend.  

The scholarship The University of Akron School Of Music has created in memory of Jordin Andrews offers funds to those who wish to study horn.  

 To donate to the fund in Andrews’ memory, designate your gift to the Jordin Andrews Scholarship fund by texting UAmusic to 41444, or by scanning the QR code.