John Brown University Music & Theatre Blog

Welcome to the John Brown University Music & Theatre Blog. On this site you can stay up to date with the latest events happening within the department. This is a place where faculty and students are able to post allowing you to have a more in-depth look into the life of current JBU music & theatre students. Here they will share about their experiences in the department, and give you a “behind the scenes” look at all of the exciting things going on here in the John Brown University Music & Theatre Department. We are excited that you’ve found our site, and we hope you enjoy reading about what we have been doing!
 
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Celebrating Family

By | JBU Alumni, Liturgy, Music, Performance, Worship Arts | No Comments

During your four years at JBU, you meet a lot of people. You hear a lot of chapel speakers, sit in a lot of classes, go to a lot of church services, show up to a lot of resident life events, play on different intramural teams, and cheer in the athletic stands with a lot of community members.

Years down the road, you may find yourself accepting a friend request or following an Instagram feed of someone you know you met at JBU but can’t quite recall specifics about him or her. Your circles didn’t coincide much, but you know you were students at JBU together and that “connection” will always feel somewhat safe and known.

On the contrary, there are other people you meet at JBU that will be a part of you for the rest of your life. You might not talk all that often or name your kids after each other or even ever live in the same town again, but time and distance won’t change the place these people hold.

As a professor in the middle of my 7th year of teaching at JBU, it is one of my greatest privileges to watch these relationships form in the Department of Music & Theatre. On the first day of classes, I watch all of the freshman hurry to their Elements of Theory class with Dr. and Mrs. Wubbena. They are a rag-tag group of musicians – some with great ears, some with great minds, some with great charisma hoping to quickly develop their ears and minds, and some stand-out students with the whole “well-rounded musician” package. Silent comparisons fly; insecurities manifest themselves in loud, nervous laughter. It’s a beautiful scene pregnant with possibility.

I watch these students travel through the degree program together, and, as they do, they become one of the most authentic examples of community you’ll ever find. You see, every degree program this department has to offer is flat-out hard. These students get one hour of academic credit for 8-10 hours of work outside the studio or the classroom. They are held to graduate level standards in most courses. Together, these students tutor each other, study together, fail together and encourage each other to try again. They speak truth to each other when self-doubt and deprecation are looming. They create together, laugh together, and live and breathe music together. Not all of them make it through the program, but for those who do, they are forever part of our family. There’s something about becoming more with someone that leaves them inked on your heart forever.

Over 15 years ago, I traveled this same journey as an undergraduate student at JBU. To this day, I can still not only name the students I traveled with, but I can tell you where they are and what they are doing. When I think back to those difficult mornings of musicianship where we all desperately prayed for our name not to be called for sight singing, I had no idea that I was sitting amongst a group of individuals who would someday make a successful run in opera performance, finish PhDs and teach at prestigious universities, compose well-known choral works, write music textbooks, attend the Country Music Awards as a songwriter, or be a worship leader who works to integrate liturgy and contemporary music in the church.

This is the beauty of the department of Music & Theatre. The marriage of hard work and intimate, committed community is one that does not disappoint.

Seth Primm is a worship leader at Mosaic NWA, a Saturday night congregation at Fellowship Bible Church in Lowell, AR. Seth is one of the amazing people I grew to call family while here at JBU. While a student here, he was a standout tenor voice, a member of the Cathedral Choir, and a founding member of the men’s quartet. His arranging skills were innovative and fresh, and his ear was impeccable. After he gradated, he married Joy Elliott (who happened to be one of my roommates at JBU) and eventually accepted a worship leading position at Fellowship Bible Church. Since arriving at Fellowship, Seth has been instrumental in the development and growth of the Saturday night congregation called Mosaic. Seth and the worshipping community of Mosaic are releasing a new album of worship songs written for the Advent season. Give a listen to the song below and then click here to pre-order the full album.

Congratulations to Seth and his team. The Department of Music & Theatre at JBU is proud to call you “one of ours,” and we celebrate the gifts you have been given and the Kingdom work you are pursuing.

Dear Mrs. Dromi…

By | Higher Education, Music, Music Education, Performance | No Comments

Dear Mrs. Dromi,

I attended your faculty recital tonight. I must admit, I came primarily because it was required of me. I supposed that was the case for a few of us tonight. The whole “Recital Attendance” course has never really been my favorite part of being a Music Major. In fact, I’ve been guilty of conquering multiple levels of Candy Crush during several of these “culturally broadening opportunities.” However, tonight, I feel there are a few things you should know about how your recital impacted me.

First, as you were in the middle of your second German set, I realized that your diction had been and continued to be impeccable. You talk to me a lot about diction in our lessons – how it is a part of musical excellence, how it communicates story and how it enhances and propels melodic phrases and lines. I get it now. I know I’ve told you that I understand in my lessons, but I really understand now. Watching you do what you teach and seeing how much that small detail changed the entirety of each piece, took my cognitive understanding to a higher level and birthed an emotional understanding that I believe will be invaluable.

Second, your French set was breathtaking. I mean, truly breathtaking. It could be the romantic in me, but hearing you sing this music reminded me that you are not only a teacher, but you are also an artist. The precision of your intervals mixed with lines and phrases that told every story left me teary in my seat. I could hear your voice in my head telling me that good technique would give me the freedom to really be an artist and reach deep places in people. Again, I get it now. I also get that all of tonight’s recital must have taken an insane amount of preparation. You must have spent the majority of your summer preparing for this. I don’t think you had to do that, but I’m really grateful that you wanted to. It was really inspiring to see that performing and making music is such a high value for you. I love that you still want to be an artist in the midst of teaching and mentoring the rest of us.

Finally, I really want to thank you for being so accessible to us tonight. As you sang your encore piece, I was taken aback by what a privilege it is to know you as a person. Tonight, we watched you and your sister perform for the first time together an entire (very ambitious) professional recital. We watched your family file into the center section of the auditorium, already proud of their daughter, wife, mother, and friend. We watched your father walk to the stage and give congratulatory flowers to his two daughters, and if we were watching closely, we saw the almost tear that he wiped from his right eye. You even let us listen in as you sang a lullaby to your children. Tonight, you weren’t just a JBU faculty member delivering a memorable performance in terms of difficulty of literature, professional artistry and near flawless technique. Tonight, you were a woman who chose to be vulnerable with a room full of people in hopes that they might experience beauty. Thank you for that.

I’m really looking forward to our lesson next week. Thanks for your willingness to help me be better. After tonight, I realize you could have chosen a much more glamorous path. Thanks for choosing us.

Sincerely,

Your student

Beginnings and Endings

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3A5A9049As the school season draws to a close, many students are preparing for a summer break, filled with internships, travel, and adventure before coming back to JBU in the fall.

For some students, however, this is not just the end of a semester, but the end of a life season.

As the years go by, the JBU Music and Theatre Department is obligated to say goodbye to students who are preparing themselves to graduate. It is with mutual joy for our graduates’ success and sorrow for the department’s loss JBUMT bids these incredible students farewell.

We have asked a small collection JBUMT graduating seniors for a word of wisdom to share with other current JBUMT students, incoming students, and prospective JBUMT students.

They responded with the following:

“Something I want to pass on — something I have learned through my experiences in the music department at JBU: Never let the fear of failure hold you back from building relationships with someone who intimidates you [or confuses you], learning new things that you may or may not end up enjoying or being successful at, or becoming better at things you think you’ve already mastered. At the end of the day, the choices that are the most difficult or risky or uncomfortable are the ones you will look back on and never regret.” – Jenna | Music Education

“Singing is my talent; I’m using it for God’s glory. What is your talent and who’s glory are you using it for?” – Seth | Vocal Performance

“If I were to say something to incoming and current students, it would be this: While you’re here, BE here.  Be with the people, take advantage of spontaneous fun and invest.  Embrace challenges, whether academically or personally, and be thankful for the humbling experiences that the Lord uses to sharpen you.  It is an incredible journey!” – Olivia | Public Relations, Drama

“Enjoy every single second in college, and take advantages of being in college, JBU. Do everything you want while you are here so you don’t regret after you graduate. College friends last forever so don’t lose them” – Jo | Worship Arts

“Go for everything. Audition for things you think you’ll fail at, take classes you think you’ll hate, talk to people you think you’ll annoy. You might have been right, but regret is worse than failure. Also, wash your socks & call your mom. She misses you.” – Kaitlyn | Cathedral Choir member, 2014 Best Actress in a Musical, 2015 Best Actress in a Play

John Brown University Music and Theatre Department graduates, we thank you for leaving a legacy. May the Lord ever bless you and keep you, and may His face shine upon you.

Returning Talents

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Organ interludes preceding gospel groups, multi-lingual prayers of the people, and the Word of God presented by a “hip hop liturgist”? These are only a few examples of the kinds of worship I’ve been able to experience and offer to God in my time at JBU.

God allows us to experience him in different and creative ways. 

Worship is meant to be creative. Gary Thomas, author of the Worship Arts textbook Sacred Pathways, writes: “Biblical figures of the Old and New Testaments confirmed to me that within the Christian faith there are many different and acceptable ways of demonstrating our love for God…. In fact, by worshiping God according to the way he made us, we are affirming his work as Creator.”

In this outpouring of praise, we meet with a multi-faceted God who does not lock himself in the cathedral or demand to be praised in the key of A major. Though in corporate worship we gather together as one unified body of Christ, he allows us to express truth and praise through our unique talents, interests, and contexts.

Over time as a Worship Arts major, I’ve learned that different people connect with God in different ways- whether that happens through joyful celebration, traditional liturgy, silent retreat, or thoughtful study. No one of these is better than another- God has created us uniquely. This is something to be celebrated!

May we find joy in our own unique encounters with God, as well as coming to value the ways our brothers and sisters seek God. Let us pray to continually appreciate variation and bless God through our special gifts.

-Rebekah

By | Music, Theology, Worship Arts | No Comments

Give Me Faith

I may be weak
But Your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God, You never will

Give me faith
To trust what You say
That You’re good
And Your love is great
I’m broken inside
I give You my life

“Give Me Faith” – © 2009 Elevation Worship Publishing