© 2024 Red River Radio
Voice of the Community
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Nacogdoches young pianist honored by Royal Conservatory of Music


An 11-year-old pianist from Nacogdoches has been awarded the National Gold Medal from the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program. Antonio Ajero received the highest score nationwide on the Level 9 test. It was the only Gold Medal awarded in Texas.

Ajero practices two hours a day. His father, Mario Ajero, is an associate professor of piano at Stephen F. Austin State University. He started teaching his son at age 3.

He says the Royal Conservatory’s Level 9 exam is extremely rigorous, and normally a passing mark is remarkable at the college level.

“I’m not really a big fan of when people label him as a prodigy. If you knew how much time and practice that he put into this, that’s really where the benefits come from,” Ajero said.

Antonio, who goes by Nio, says the more he practices the better prepared he feels. He credits his father for showing him the range of the instrument.

“He taught me a lot, and he really helped me get into the spirit of music,” Nio Ajero said.

Linda Parr is Nio’s piano teacher now. She’s on the faculty of SFA’s Music Preparatory Division. She says Nio shows a lot of promise, and more competitions will avail him as a teenager.

“He’s doing an awful lot of repertoire. He’s so quick. He’ll learn an entire movement of a sonata sometimes in one week, which is kind of hard to believe,” Parr said, who added it’s an honor to be his teacher.

Parr says dad Mario sits in on the piano lessons, and she sees a healthy relationship.

“Not every child works well with their parent as a teacher. In this case, it has been integrated into his life so much. I think from the beginning the way Mario approached it was he made it a lot of fun,” Parr said.

Nio expects to take the Royal Conservatory’s Level 10 test in about two years. The Royal Conservatory Music Program is a national standard in music study from beginning to advanced levels and Level 10 is the highest test.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.