Monthly Archives

March 2015

Hello, my name is Chester…

By | Chester, Music, Music Education | One Comment

Hi! My name is Chester Wubbena, and I am the mascot and therapy dog for the Music & Theatre Department at John Brown University. I am around four years old, a Corgi mix, and I was adopted from the local animal shelter two years ago by Jan and Terri Wubbena, teachers here in the music program at JBU. I LOVE coming to JBU; the students LOVE me coming to JBU; and I provide a very important service. I go to classes when there is going to be a test. Hanging out with me in the first few minutes of class helps to lower their blood pressure and their stress level. I really believe I help them relax and better concentrate on what they are doing!! I put smiles on the faces of everyone I meet, because I am always smiling.

Life in the Department of Music & Theatre is always busy. Something is always being prepared – the freshman drama production, Homecoming Showcase, music for the Gathering on Sunday nights, the musical theatre production, Candlelight – and the list goes on. But things are never so busy that there isn’t time to talk, to visit, and to share with each other what is going on in our lives.

From time to time, you may hear more from me. It will be an honor for me to give you a dog’s perspective on what it is like to be in the Department of Music & Theatre! And, if you are ever on campus and want to brighten your day (and mine), come see me. I’m most always in my dad’s office.

God I Look to You

By | Leadership, Music, Theology, Worship Arts | No Comments

God I Look to You (circle)James 1:5
“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you.”

This Tuesday in chapel, guest speaker Hadden Wilson challenged us to ask for the wisdom of God and not of the world so that we may better lead and love others.

God I look to You
You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom

You know just what to do…

May we seek wisdom in all circumstances.

© 2010 Bethel Music

Getting Out of the Pew

By | Leadership, Liturgy, Music, Theology, Worship Arts | One Comment

“I am much more comfortable right there in the pew”

Lea Finder sheepishly said this on Sunday night at the Gathering, nearly as soon as she walked on stage. And it was one of those honest moments that hits you so hard you make this weird sort of “grunt of agreement” sound, and then you nod a lot—at least I did anyway. Then I thought…

“Am I much more comfortable here in the pew?”

While observing services at a local church, I noticed that there appears to be a lack of congregational participation through out the service. Other than singing or laughing at the pastor’s jokes about the Seinfeld clips he uses to relate to the sermon, there is an understood notion of “I stay here in my seat with my coffee, and I watch, listen, and sing. Boom.” So there is almost a learned sense of…

“I am much more comfortable here in this chair.”

During the Reformation era of the 16th century, Martin Luther challenged the ways of Catholic Europe. Interestingly, one of Luther’s many reforms had to do with congregational participation during the worship service. He proposed the adaptation of Gregorian chant, secular art music, and even popular tunes into strophic four-part harmony set in the vernacular German text. This encouraged the congregation to participate more by making the music more accessible to the people. These works were called chorales and are an example of balance between being led and singing all together.

Eventually, over time, this idea of creating accessible liturgy for the church by adapting forms of pop culture contributed to all sorts of different congregations reciting creeds, prayers, calls to worship, and other things together. The congregation became an active part of the service by accepting an invitation to join in worship with the body of Christ. Today, however, there is a natural lean towards pursuing individualism rather than togetherness. Perhaps we have forgotten the beauty and power brought on by the Reformation?

So often I go into a service with a terrible attitude. I am focused on trying to avoid that weird mom who talks a lot or that person I forgot to text back about helping out with the youth group. I just walk in, grab coffee, and go to my seat. This is such a limiting, comfortable way to approach worshipping as a body. I don’t even think about my brothers and sisters that surround me. I like my space.

It takes great faith to learn to get up out of the pew, as Lea confessed. It takes great faith to choose to add your voice to the hundreds of voices around you and throughout history and to believe your voice matters.

“Lord, here are my hands. They’re small, they’re small and

Here are my hands, they’re small and trembling.

Here are my dreams, they’re me protected,

Here are my dreams, so please be gentle now…”

~Aaron Niequist (A New Liturgy)

 

Lord, use us today for the good of your Kingdom. Guide our thoughts, words, and actions in every encounter we face, so that we may know you more and consider all other gains as loss. Let us grow tired from sitting comfortable, and give us the strength to stand up and join in with your body.

 

~Hannah

Building Blocks

By | Music, Music Education, Music Theory | No Comments

Sweat was gathering on my brow. I was sitting in musicianship class, trying not to look directly at our professor, who had just given me a pitch from a pitch pipe and was waiting for me to begin. All I had to do was sing this sight-singing exercise, but the heat of the moment made it seem so much more difficult. If only I had practiced more last night!

I decided the only thing to do was to give it my best shot, and that’s what I did. It wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t terrible either. And it was better than last time, which was the important thing. Something I was doing in practice was paying off, even if only a little. Somewhere in those late night sessions of trying to figure out what was going on in this harmonic dictation, or which prepared sight-singing exercises I was going to neglect preparing, or why we had to go this in-depth with musicianship anyway, I was actually learning something.

That something was musicianship skills, and they have showed up in my study of music ever since. As hard as it would have been for me to believe at the time, everything I was doing mattered. Learning to read simple lines with solfege would give me a leg up on learning tough pieces in choir. Reading multiple cleffs and trying to understand harmonic dictations made me more prepared to play hymns in class piano. And learning to practice even when I didn’t want to has made me a more competent musician in every way.

It wasn’t just musicianship, though. My experience in Music Theory classes has helped me, too. Whether analyzing a piece in Music History, or harmonizing a melody, or writing an aural analysis of a piece performed in a recital, a deeper understanding of the basic workings of music has given me the ability to succeed at every point along the way.

While it wasn’t easy, it was worth it. I’m glad I worked through the tough classes in the first two years of my music major. Not only has it given me valuable music skills, it has given me the motivation to work hard in the rest of the hard classes I have yet to take.

~Steve