Levi Sisemore, Texas Normal Singing School
This article was originally published in the bulletin of the 37th Street Church of Christ, Snyder, Texas in 2015
Our guest columnist today is Troy Wade, a student at Angelo State University, and son of Rich and Laura Wade of Rotan, Texas. The Wades are members of the 37th Street Church of Christ. This summer, Troy has shared his talents with us by directing our singing on several occasions, all to God’s glory. I was very pleased to have Troy as a student at The Singing School at Abilene Christian University in July, a multi-summer program designed to improve all areas of congregational singing and church music leadership. I asked Troy to write for us today, telling us about his first year at The Singing School. Find out more at SingingSchool.org. ~ Levi
Last month, thanks to the generosity of 37th Street, I was blessed to attend the Singing School at ACU. As a newcomer to the school I was impressed with this school not only because of the high standards of learning but also because of the brotherly love displayed by the students and faculty towards one another and the insights on worship I gained while I was there.
From the technical side of things, the Singing School has a holistic approach to song-leading and singing. Not only did I have classes and practice time dedicated to song-leading, I also had classes in music theory, sight-reading with shaped-notes, and church music appreciation. Thus, a day included such things as practicing the beat pattern for songs in 3/4 time, the story of the man who wrote “Amazing Grace,” learning about how harmonies work in music, and singing new compositions by a composer from Russia.
One thing in particular that was new to me was the chance to sing many of the Psalms throughout the week. What a great treasure the church has often overlooked in our worship: the chance to sing from the Bible’s songbook. A point that was brought out during the week was the majority of the Psalms are not focused on praise and celebration but rather on lamentation. In a similar way, many Christians who come to church need to sing songs which speak to their current struggles rather than only exhortations to be happy. This is one of the ideas I was taught regarding being intentional in leading worship instead of just leading singing.
Several students were able to showcase new songs they had written either during the week or previously. It is encouraging to see brethren once again writing songs of praise to God. And at the end of the day, what a powerful experience to hear the school sing “Where No One Stands Alone” in the building’s rotunda and hear the lingering echo of lifted voices after the last stanza. After this several of us went each evening to sing at the local Dairy Queen, a long-standing school tradition.
Folks at the Singing School had a loving attitude toward one another that was refreshing and encouraging. Whether worshipping together, being in classes together, praying for one another as we had occasion, or simply fellowshipping over daily meals, the students and faculty created an atmosphere of kindness that would have made it a worthwhile experience even without the emphasis on music training.
In short, the Singing School at ACU is an experience I would highly recommend for anybody that wants to learn a little music, improve their leading, or just fellowship with others who love to praise God in song.