Music has a way of helping me remember. It has always been special to me, and I have memories of melodies that whisk me away to various moments in my life. I use playlists to associate songs with specific seasons of my life. During the Christmas season, for example, I’m apt to queue Phil Wickham’s “Christmas Acoustic Sessions” album, sprinkle in some Pentatonix hits, and finish with For King and Country’s “Into the Silent Night” album. These songs help me recall memories with family and friends as we come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Music permeates Cedarville University, and it’s one of the many reasons why I love our campus so much. At 10 a.m. from Monday through Friday, students, faculty, and staff attend chapel services, which is a long-standing tradition at Cedarville University. Music pours through the doors of the Dixon Ministry Center as instrumentalists and vocalists minister to the students in worship. Considered the heartbeat of campus, chapel is arguably the most important part of every student’s day, and it’s only one opportunity in which students can experience the beauty of Cedarville University’s music.
Before I came to Cedarville, I was involved in musical groups at both my high school and my home church. I played the snare drum in my high school’s marching band, participated in my high school’s wind symphony, sang in the women’s chorus, and played the drums for my church’s worship team. As an English major, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find an opportunity to continue participating in musical groups; however, I soon realized that Cedarville offers an abundance of opportunities for students to continue their passions for music. There are many different ensembles that students can join — so many, in fact, that I’ve often been conflicted about which groups to participate in.
Q&A With a Music Major
To gain a fuller understanding of the musical opportunities available to students at Cedarville University, I talked with Allison Renner, who is a junior piano pedagogy major. In essence, she is studying to become a piano teacher, and her time in the University’s music and worship department has given her insight into the many ensembles available to students. I asked her how students who aren’t music majors could get involved in the music program, and she stated, “There are seven ensembles that any student can join: Chorale, Women’s Chorus, Wind Symphony, Madrigal Choir, Orchestra, Pep Band, and Jazz Band. Several of these ensembles require auditions; however, the Pep Band does not require auditions, and anyone is welcome to join. Students from any major can audition for any ensemble.”
If students choose to participate in the ensembles, they can add college credit to their schedules, and Cedarville also offers a music minor for those who cannot double their major. According to Allison, music majors often recruit non-majors to join their ensembles: “Groups of friends that include non-majors often form in the ensembles as a result, creating a sense of camaraderie within the musical community.” Cedarville’s music and worship department provides an environment that welcomes the diversity of all students, even those who are not pursuing music as a career.
If a student isn’t interested in joining any of the ensembles but still wishes to further their skills in music, there are several alternative options available. Non-majors can take music lessons with professors from the Department of Music and Worship. There are also currently nine piano pedagogy majors who are actively teaching, and they can take on students for piano lessons. There are also some professors who offer lessons in their fields of expertise, such as vocal lessons and violin lessons. The Dixon Ministry Center contains practice rooms that are offered each year as well — students can sign up for access for vocal and instrumental practice.
Q&A With a Worship Major
In addition to the opportunities that the music department offers, Cedarville’s worship program offers a plethora of chances for students to involve themselves in musical groups. The worship program is robust and has many incredibly talented individuals, and every student on campus has the opportunity to serve on various worship teams during their time at Cedarville. I spoke with Emily Campbell, a senior worship major, to glean information about the specific teams and groups that students can participate in on campus.
HeartSong is composed of four teams of students from many different majors. When I asked Emily if a student needed to major in worship to join, she gave me a quick answer: “No, you do not have to be majoring in worship to serve on HeartSong!” Emily served on a HeartSong team for two years, and she explained the nature of the program. The supervisors of HeartSong hold auditions at the beginning of each year to determine who will be on the teams. HeartSong is an esteemed organization that travels on weekends during the semester and tours over the summer at various locations. It is a paid position, and it is an incredible opportunity to develop musical skills, build community, and serve others through worship.
The worship program has three department bands: Resonance, Rekindle, and Lab Band. While these bands are built for worship majors, non-majors can audition for vocalist and instrumentalist positions. These bands travel on the weekends as well, but they usually don’t tour over the summers.
Chapel bands are also options for students to involve themselves in worship ministries on campus. These bands do not travel; they function specifically to serve as the bands that provide music for the student body daily chapels during the school year. Christian Ministries and the chapel band leaders hold auditions at the beginning of each school year to determine who will serve on chapel bands.
There are also two choral ensembles, and these choirs are open to all students. Jubilate is a worship choir composed of both non-majors and worship majors. This group travels on some weekends, and they serve in chapel ministry as well. Any student can join Jubilate! All the People is a student organization — a gospel choir that was founded by Cedarville students. This group performs in chapel services, and they also collaborate with other student ensembles such as the worship program bands. There are no auditions for All the People, and everyone is welcome to join!
Cedarville University’s campus is special, and its students’ beautiful music is one of the aspects that I find to be the most special about it. When I came to Cedarville, I was afraid that my musical involvement would diminish, but I was wrong —in actuality, it has flourished. I currently drum for Resonance, one of the worship bands, and in the past, I have played percussion instruments in Pep Band as well. Playing music and worshiping with the student body has been one of the greatest experiences that I’ve had in my life, and I’m thankful that Cedarville considers and emphasizes the importance of music. If you’re interested in furthering your musical skills or participating in an ensemble or group, Cedarville University is the place for you!
Year and Major: Junior, English
Favorite Music Artist: Shane and Shane
Favorite Quote: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
What do you like to do in your free time? I love hanging out with my friends and family! As far as hobbies go, I’m an avid reader, snowboarder, writer, and drummer!