Seated among the instruments and amplifiers at the Brownwood Music store, Kaeli Goodgion thumbed the four nylon strings of her blonde ukulele and gave an impromptu lesson.
“My dog has fleas,” Goodgion crooned in a smooth, pleasant singing voice, explaining how the ukulele is tuned as she plucked its four strings: G-C-E-A. It’s a fairly easy instrument easy to learn, she explained.
The ukulele is one of several instruments the 21-year-old Comanche High School graduate plays, including guitar, piano, violin, mandolin, cello and viola.
Partly self-taught and partly taught by taking lessons, Goodgion gives music lessons at Brownwood Music, where she also works part-time, and teaches in Howard Payne University’s pre-college music program.
She’s also a student at HPU — not as a music major, but as an art major.
“I am an art major — just a fanatic for music,” Goodgion said.
Goodgion, the daughter of Roy and Donna Goodgion and one of three siblings, grew up around music. Her father is a longtime musician, music tech and piano tuner who also works part-time at Brownwood Music and once played with Reba McEntire’s band. That happened in the early years of McEntire’s career, before she became famous.
“My parents’ favorite story of me is, whenever they were driving down the road, we were all in the car, all five of us — and of course I don’t remember this. I was six months old. They were playing something on the radio and they couldn’t figure out what they were hearing.
“So they turned it down and I was singing the notes to whatever song was on the radio, pitch perfect.”
Goodgion took up her first instrument at age 8, a little red child’s keyboard, and moved on to other instruments including the mandolin at age 11.
She’d also started drawing and doodling as a child. “I just fell in love and took four years of art in high school,” Goodgion said. “All of my teachers trained me to look at something and see it as lines. You have to copy that line. That’s it.”
Goodgion will graduate from HPU in the spring of 2019 and plans to teach art, hopefully in a small town in Texas. She hopes her students will fall in love with art just as she did.
“Music is a form of art,” Goodgion said. “Music is emotional as well, and art is emotional.”
Goodgion said she became associated with Brownwood Music when she’d sometimes accompany her father to his job in the store. “Whenever it was summertime, I thought the coolest thing was to go to work with him,” Goodgion said. “I thought the coolest thing back then was to come up to the music store. I’d come here and hang out with my dad every single day that I could.”
Goodgion was a freshman at HPU when she was offered a job in the store.
When asked whether she considers art or music to be her top passion, Goodgion could only laugh. “Aw, man …I feel like I’m called to music ministry at High Mesa Cowboy Church. I’ve been playing there since as long as I’ve had a mandolin. I play mandolin and violin over there whenever Jodie’s not there and I play the keyboard. I sing in the band.”
Goodgion was referring to Brownwood Music owner Jodie Armstrong, a member of the High Mesa Cowboy Church music team.
“I feel like right now, this is exactly where God needs me to be,” Goodgion said.