The Thursday before he died, Andrew Pierson was sitting in on a private lesson in the electronic composition studio while a student was recording a song.
Pierson put his head back, closed his eyes and listened to his classmate’s music. When it was over, he looked at the student and said, “That was really beautiful.”
“That was just very typical of his kindness and encouragement and his positive attitude with other students,” said Jeff Kaiser, assistant professor of music.
Pierson was a senior music major with a concentration in music technology and a minor in business management.
He died Nov 4. due to natural causes, according to Johnson County Coroner Clark Holdren.
Colleen Pierson, Andrew’s mom, said he started playing guitar in middle school and was involved in marching band and jazz band. She said at UCM, he was a part of the guitar ensemble and had an internship lined up for the summer with a studio in Nashville, Tennessee, to finish his degree.
“Guitar was definitely his life,” she said.
She said he was a big bookworm.
“He was very intelligent. He read all the time,” she said. “When he was little, he constantly read books after books. He always had two or three books when he was in middle school. He would steal the newspaper every morning from Coach O’Neal and read it.”
Eric Honour, professor of music technology and composition, said he had Pierson in several classes while he was at UCM.
“Drew was always a very upbeat guy,” Honour said. “He was very serious about his work. He was a thoroughly gifted guitarist and quite a good audio engineer. But I, and most of his student colleagues, remember him for his personality because he was just always friendly and always upbeat and always willing to help other people and kind of raise people’s spirits when they’re feeling stressed or down. I think that’s one of the legacies that he (left) behind.”
Honour said Pierson brought a lot of his creativity to his projects, even if they didn’t require it.
“When I would assign a project that was…something more nuts and bolts and didn’t necessarily require much of the artistic input, Drew usually found a way to be creative with that and still do
something with it that viewed it with his sense of musical art,” he said. “In that way, he was really kind of special among his classmates and he always managed to find a way to bring his personality into his projects.”
Kaiser said he worked with Andrew on his senior project. He had Pierson in class every semester since fall of 2016.
“He has been absolutely fantastic,” Kaiser said. “Diligent, hard working, creative, hilarious (and) super great sense of humor. And also… a good friend to people in the program — I’m sure outside as well.”
He said Pierson was leaning toward being a studio engineer.
“I would say his trajectory was awesome,” Kaiser said. “I was able to see him go from a beginner to working with advanced-level stuff.”
Kaiser said Pierson was very kind and helpful toward the other students in the program.
“As well as a great sense of humor, he was very thoughtful and kind and encouraging with his fellow music tech majors,” he said.