Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crunch Time

Later this month, I will begin my fourth and final year as an undergraduate at Wheaton College. The fact that I can finally say that I am a senior music major is staggering. I have so much to be grateful for from the first three years, and plenty to look forward to in this last year. It is this letter set that I want to focus on in this post.

Within the last week, I have ordered all of my textbooks and other course materials. I generally enjoy placing these orders, believe it or not, because I just plain like the feeling of knowing that I am growing my professional library. In any case, placing the order for this fall’s course materials got me thinking about this fall’s courses. In terms of credit hours, this semester will be the lightest load I have had yet. However, nine of those hours are in 400-level classes, and the other five are 300-level. However once again, some of these upper division courses are the culmination of my entire music education curriculum.

One of these courses is the music senior capstone course. Dr. Kathy Kastner, one of my favorite professors, teaches this half-semester seminar. I have heard good things about it from music majors in classes ahead of mine. The essence of these comments are that this course is a chance to put together all of our experiences as music majors and consider how it is all part of God’s work of redeeming the fallen world. Or at least, that is what I hope the class is, but I suspect I am not far off the mark.

The other of these culminating courses is instrumental methods. Quite simply, the seven senior music education majors in this course will study just how to administer a school music program, in preparation for student teaching and then on to professional teaching. Dr. Tim Yontz, who has been my advisor, band director, and boss during my time at Wheaton, teaches this course.

Also on my schedule for the fall are two conducting courses: instrumental conducting, with Dr. Dan Sommerville (I am really looking forward to this challenging course), and honors conducting (a fantastic opportunity Dr. Yontz offered me to have a real conducting experience as I rehearse and conduct in concert a piece with the Symphonic Band). The last two courses are theological ethics (I really enjoyed my Christian thought class last fall, so I am glad that I was able to fit a theology elective into my final year), and my private trombone lessons.

Speaking of trombone, this fall I will also have my senior recital. Early in November, I will culminate the performance studies component of my undergraduate work with this event. I will always be grateful that the music curriculum at Wheaton has such a strong performance component, because I doubt that I would push myself as hard as I have in this area if it was not required. I have been excited about the opportunity to present a senior recital since late in my sophomore year, and while I know that I still have a bit of work ahead of me, I really am looking forward to the challenge.

Of course, life at Wheaton is never just about the academics. I will also continue to be heavily involved in the extended concert performance activities of the Conservatory of Music. The sixty-first season of the Artist Series kicks off on October 9 with the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, and six other exciting events follow. Among these events is the November 20 John Nelson event, which is part of the sesquicentennial celebrations. John Nelson will conduct the band and choirs in the world premiere of a new work, and then conduct the orchestra and choirs in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. I feel very privileged to have the role of head stage manager for this season.

One other exciting event this year is College Union’s presentation of Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert this November. I was very excited when I saw this event on the main events calendar (yes, I do use the phrase “very excited” too much).

Probably the most significant event this year for the institution as a whole is an event that also carries much significance for the larger Christian academic community: the inauguration of Philip Graham Ryken as President of Wheaton College. I have been already heard a few things about the plans for this multi-day occasion, and it looks to really be an exciting time for everyone in the Wheaton College community.

Once all the challenging yet fun fall semester is over, I will have the usual three weeks off for Christmas and to sleep, and then I begin another challenging semester, yet in a whole different way. Next spring I will complete my student teaching, the culmination of the education side of my major. Now that that experience is less than half a year away, I find myself (gratefully) looking forward to it. I hope to blog much more about that in the coming months.

But if asked what is the number one reason I am looking forward to this coming year, the immediate answer is and always will be because of the people at Wheaton College. This year is, quite literally, the last time I will be within walking distance of all my Wheaton friends on this side of heaven. There are so many amazing people there who have had such profound effects on my life in the last few years, both peers and faculty and staff. May 8, 2011, Commencement Sunday, will be a bittersweet day.

But that day is not for another nine months. Plenty of time to make more good memories.

This is Rubio, over and out.

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