Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Music's affect on mind, soul is nearly beyond words

A good friend of mine sent me this Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel article this morning and told me it's everything he and I have been saying about music's power for years when we taught choir and band together at Winnebago Lutheran Academy. So I read the article by Philip Chard. I don't know the man, but I can tell one thing about him–he's missing one vital piece of information which would make his premise make sense and be irrefutable.

God gave us music. The reason why the quasars and black holes and the earth flicker and hum and resonate is because God let them and made them to do that. The reason the sad, the happy, the testy, and the hyper-stimulated respond to music is because God gave music power. David played his harp in the Old Testament to calm King Saul's soul and drive out evil spirits (1 Samuel 16:23).

Yes, music and math can be compared, but music composed by purely mathematical formulas (e.g. serialism) is not usually "pleasing" and passionately melodic. It's not the type of music that you whistle or hum when you are happy or sad. Even Johann Sebastian Bach, the great Lutheran church music composer, buried numerology throughout his works (he was also a member of a mathematical society) , but that music is mostly for the brain, not the heart and soul. You have to understand the math to be moved by the music. God gave music an even greater power.

What songs come back to you in times of trouble? What melodies do you sing when you are happy? Hymns come back to me–the hymns I sang in church sitting next to my family and the hymns I learned in school for devotions and memory work and Hymnology class. The songs I learned in Sunday School and Lutheran elementary school, and choir in Lutheran high school, and Lutheran college, and the songs and hymns I teach to my Lutheran high school choirs come back to me. And my students tell me this is true for them too. More times than I can count, students have asked me to play for them, or to find recordings, or to sing with them or for them the songs and hymns and they learned over the years when tragedy came into their lives. When their dads and uncles and classmates died, Music, connected to God's Word, comforted them and their families.

When God's Word is put to music, it gets locked into our brains. We can remember the lyrics of a song when we sing them, but if we would just try to say the lyrics, we stumble at reciting them. Music + text = powerful memory. Music + God's Word = Lifelong Comfort.

That's the missing piece of information. God gave us Music to help us remember His Word better and to keep it in our hearts and to sing it in happy or sad times.

Monday, February 25, 2008

No AK Practice 2.25.08

There will be no Academy Kids rehearsal this evening, Monday, February 25, 2008. The next rehearsal will be this Wednesday from 6-8 PM.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Academy Kids Sing at the Taste of Fond du Lac

The Academy Kids performed Sunday, February 24, 2008 at the annual Taste of Fond du Lac. We have been privileged to perform every year at the Taste for as many years as I can remember. For the last couple of years, the Academy Kids have been highly recommended and positioned in the entertainment schedule to help highlight the draw of the community for the day's events. We very much appreciate the compliments and the chance to perform for the Fond du Lac community. Thank you, MaryAnn Dilling, Executive Director of the Fond du Lac Festivals, for continuing to invite us back year after year!

At this year's Taste the Academy Kids sang five selections:
  • Big City Swing
  • For Good from the Broadway musical "Wicked" (duet by Hannah Sugars and Nikki Knuth)
  • Seeing is Believing from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Aspects of Love"
  • Bless the Broken Road (solo by Joe Wege)
  • Medley from High School Musical (solos by Hannah Sugars, Josh Wege, and Joe Wege)

Friday, February 22, 2008

March 1 Solo/Ensemble Schedules Finalized

Below you will find links to the schedules for the March 1, 2008 WSMA Flyway Conference Vocal & Piano Solo/Ensemble Festival which is being hosted by Winnebago Lutheran Academy (Click here for directions to WLA).

Please note: Each school has two schedules (performers and accompanists) sorted in two different ways, (1) by the time they are performing and then the site where they are performing and (2) by the site where they are performing and then the time that they perform. There are also master room schedules for the entire day, master accompanist's schedules, a map of WLA with site numbers marked, and a list of adjudicators.

Any questions? Dale Witte, WLA's choir director, is the festival manager for both the March 1st and March 8th festivals. You can reach him at his school number: 920-921-4930 ext. 310 or by email:

Room Schedules:
Site 1, Site 2, Site 3, Site 4, Site 5, Site 6, Site 7, Site 8, Site 9

Bessie Allen Middle School (BAMS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Brandon Middle School (BMS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Fond du Lac Area Catholic Educational System (FACES):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Faith Lutheran Grade School (FAITH):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Horicon High School (HHS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Horace Mann High School (HMHS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Laconia High School (LACHS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Lomira High School (LHS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Lomira Junior High School (LJH):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Mayville High School (MHS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Mayville Middle School (MMS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Rosendale Middle School (RMS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Seibel Family (SEIB):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

St. Mary's Springs High School (SMS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Van Brundt Middle School (VBMS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Waupun High School (WHS):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Winnebago Lutheran Academy (WLA):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Winnebago Lutheran Area Band (WLAB):
Time-Site, Site-Time, Accomp Time-Site, Accomp Site-Time

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Solo Ensemble Volunteers Meeting Feb. 26

Thank you very much to everyone who has volunteered to help run the two Solo Ensemble weekends at WLA March 1 and 8! A volunteers meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 26 at 6:30 PM in the WLA choir room (Rm. 153). The following people will explain all of the jobs at the meeting:

Dale Witte–Setup/Cleanup, Certifier, Data Entry, Info Desk
Renee Witte & Carol Neubauer–Room Monitors, Runners, Nurses
Diane Poch–Food, Kitchen Help, Concessions

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Google Earth Presentations are Now Online

Google Earth? Yes, I do other things than just music!

This past weekend I gave my second presentation to the Northern Wisconsin District Teacher's Conference at St. Peter's Lutheran School, Sturgeon Bay, WI on using Google Earth in Religion Class. Last year, Dave Wege asked me to present on Google Earth to the same teacher's conference in Tomahawk, WI. That presentation was on the basics of Google Earth for Teachers and Students with a special explanation of how my son and I used it to help map out the Gold Rush Diary of George Bonniwell.

Both presentations are linked on the right side of this blog under My Links>Google Earth Links. Last year's presentation is listed under "My Google Earth Files". This year's presentation is the web page that comes up when you click on "Google Earth Links". I've also listed many other links to Google Earth that I've found.

Food Donations Needed for Both Solo/Ensemble Weekends

Food donations of the following items are needed for the March 1st and 8th Solo/Ensemble Festivals that WLA is hosting:
  • Fruit (apples, oranges, bananas)
  • Bars (cut and wrapped in 3"x4" indivdual squares)
  • Bagels and cream cheese
  • Capri Sun boxes
  • Sunny D small individual bottles
If you can donate any of these items, please contact Diane Poch at or 920-929-9074.

Friday, February 15, 2008


(Updated 2/16/08 7:48 PM)
The safety of my kids is more important than singing.

For a second week in a row we have to cancel a Traveling Choir church performance, this time at St. John's, Markesan. After talking with Pastor Jobs this evening, He and I agreed that it would be better to cancel the performance than to put them in danger or driving in what looks like it will be a combination of ice and snow.

I will be looking at the calendar to see when we might be able to reschedule this performance. TC will be making up the Mt. Zion, Ripon performance that we missed last Sunday by singing their this Wednesday, Feb. 20 for their 7:00 PM Lenten service.

This Sunday, February 17, 2008, the WLA Traveling Choir will be singing for the 9:00 AM service at St. John's, Markesan. The bus will leave WLA at 7:00 AM. Cars should be to church by 8:00 AM.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

NO, We Are NOT Going to Ripon (updated)

Because of the extreme cold and blowing snow, the Traveling Choir performance at Ripon is cancelled for this morning. We will try to reschedule if possible.

I think I've gotten in touch with everyone this morning by phone or by text. Thank you to everyone who helped get the word out this morning for me. My apologies for making the decision so close to when we had to leave, but it was reassuring for me to hear from so many parents saying thank you for cancelling. The safety of our kids is important to me to me as well. One idea that I've had this morning for when to reschedule this performance is to look for a Wednesday Lenten service at Mt. Zion to sing at.

Even though I haven't written this blog entry yet and even though the temperature is predicted to plummet overnight, the Traveling Choir is still on for singing at Mt. Zion, Ripon tomorrow morning, February 10, 2008.

7:15 am Students at WLA
7:30 am Bus leaves WLA
8:00 am Cars and Bus arrive at Mt. Zion, Ripon (320 Mount Zion Dr.,Ripon, WI 54971 920-748-5641
9:00 am The only service
11:00 am-ish Bus returns to WLA

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Welcome 5th & 6th Graders!

Today in Traveling Choir we had visitors from a number of our outlying WLA association congregations: St. John's Montello, St. John's Princeton, Peace Green Lake, St. John's Lomira, and one nearby school, Redeemer Fond du Lac.

5th & 6th Grade Visitation

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Irish Hymnal Arrives!

When I got home last night, my son got in the mail and asked if I was waiting for a package from Oxford University Press. I shouted, "Yes!" and ran over to the dinner table where the package was sitting, damp from the rain. I opened the package and inside was the Church Hymnal of the Church of Ireland. The time was 5:15 PM. As I left the house with the Church Hymnal under my arm at 5:25 to take my son to piano lessons and I told my wife, "Now I have something to do!" She laughed. By midnight, I had devoured the hymnal, reading each one of the 719 hymns and marking all the Irish hymn tunes for my upcoming Irish Hymn Festival (March 17, 2008, 3:30 & 7:00 PM at Faith Lutheran Church, Fond du Lac, WI).

Now I'm waiting for my other purchase to come in the mail: the Companion to the Church Hymnal.

ALHS Opening Service Choir Cancelled

I just got a phone call this morning from Ned Goede, principal of Wisconsin Lutheran High School, saying, because of the predicted 10-14" of snow that Milwaukee is supposed to get from the winter storm that will be passing through today and tomorrow, that he is canceling the choir of high school students for the opening service of the Area Lutheran High School conference that was supposed to practice tomorrow afternoon and sing Thursday morning.

Parents of the sixteen seniors that I selected to represent WLA at this event: the good news is that I was able to cancel our hotel reservations without incurring any expenses. The money which you paid will be refunded in full. I will send it home with your son or daughter today.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

WANTED: Boomboxes with CD players

As we get ready for district Solo/Ensemble this year, I find myself making umpteen accompaniment recordings for my students because (a) there are not enough accompanists to go around, (b) I can't take any accompaniments this year because I am the festival manager for both weekends that WLA hosts Solo/Ensemble (Mar. 1 & 8), (c) it is just more convenient for the kids to have a recording that they can always sing to and know the accompaniment will always be the same. And, frankly, (d) if you've got a portable CD player just sitting around at home and can donate it to the WLA Music Department, even if it is just until Solo/Ensemble is done (after March 8) it will same me the money and time of buying multiples. THANK YOU!

Traveling Choir to Sing at Immanuel, Oshkosh

Sunday, February 3, 2008 (Yes, I know, SuperBowl Sunday, but that's late in the afternoon. This is in the morning, and at a reasonable hour!)

7:15 AM Arrive at WLA
7:30 Bus leaves WLA
8:00 Arrive at Immanuel, Oshkosh (338 N Eagle St, Oshkosh WI 54902)
9:00 Service at Immanuel

Before the Sermon:
  • Gloria (Bass)
  • This Is My Word (Choplin)
  • This Little Light of Mine (arr. Witte)
After the Benediction:
  • Witness (arr. Halloran)
  • E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come (Manz)
  • O Love of God, How Strong and True (arr. McCarthy)
Snacks & Fellowship after the service

11:15ish Bus returns to WLA

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