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More than a passion: Musical theater major hits the right note
DeAnn Reed
Antelope Staff
Photo by DeAnn Reed
Singing "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John, Jordan shares his love for music.
Photo by DeAnn Reed Peterson writes his own music and won the 2006 Galaxy of Stars competition in Nebraska for a title named No Wings.

His fingers moved fluently over the long, narrow ivory keys like a poet conducting a sonnet. It didn’t matter that a stranger was watching him play. He kept intensely playing his song, coaxing each note to become more than a staccato or half note, or even quarter note.  He was creating music for the pure enjoyment.

Jordan Peterson, a sophomore musical theater major, began his musical career at the age of seven when his mother asked him if he wanted to take his first piano lesson. He didn’t really like the idea, but he decided to give it a try.

It was love at first play. Peterson said it was easy for him to make the transition from sports to playing the piano— because it was obvious that this was something he was supposed to do. Peterson recognizes that he has had some great people in his life who have encouraged him to keep playing—his parents. He said his parents helped motivate him to push himself to be better at what he does.

While music has been at the center of his life since the age of seven, Peterson’s journey into musical theater began in junior high. Peterson said it was while he was watching a high school musical that he realized he wanted to become involved in acting. “I had always liked singing and music in general, so I just decided I would combine music and theater.” He said he loves being able to use both of those talents on stage, and it was in high school that acting began to take more prominence in his life.  

For many musicians, writing music becomes a part of their journey, and Peterson is no different. In high school he would sit down, grab his laptop and record his songs. He said it was his ability to write music that helped him to win the 2006 Galaxy of Stars competition in Nebraska for “No Wings.” The Galaxy of Stars is an annual talent search held at the state fair. The competition was started by Wynne Adams, a professional singer, songwriter and music teacher. She created the talent search to give singers, songwriters, musicians and dancers of all ages the opportunity to perform, gain experience and receive some media exposure.

Peterson’s prize for winning the statewide competition was eight hours of professional recording time in a studio in Kearney. The talented piano player used the opportunity to mix the songs he had done at home with what he had accomplished professionally at the studio. He said if dreams were possible, he would like to be a recording artist or a singer.

There are always challenges in becoming a good musician, and for Peterson, the biggest challenge is retraining his voice. Without formal voice lessons in high school, he just sang not realizing that the way he was singing could actually damage his voice. Voice lessons, he said, help you sing correctly and help you think about the longevity of your voice. Peterson said when he sings around his peers, he feels relaxed. He is more nervous when he is in voice lessons and is forced to think about what he is doing.

Peterson is currently involved in many of UNK’s musical and drama performances. One of Peterson’s goals when he leaves UNK is to get a job working in a big city like Chicago. He said there are other jobs he could do like regional theater. Over the summer he worked for a theater in Missouri, and he hopes to be able to do more of it when he leaves school.

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