Students form Bethel music initiative

December 3, 2013 | 11 a.m.

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For so many current students and alumni, the Bethel music department has been and is a home and a family. Whether music majors or not, students in music ensembles develop deep friendships with each other, enjoy rehearsing and performing music together and are led by inspiring in worshiping God through our music. Almost every ensemble member can look around during a rehearsal and see several of his or her closest friends. The same is also true for music majors when they look around their music theory or history class.

Thus, when the results of the Prioritization and Review were sent out on Oct. 18, many in the music department took the changes pretty hard. Four music degrees have been cut for future students (music education, vocal performance, sacred music and music composition), and two music faculty members were let go. The honest first reaction of many was anger, which then turned to sorrow. Many of us simply could not get beyond what we believed to be a crippling blow to the music community that we cherish so much here at Bethel.

Due to our strong convictions, we felt it necessary to communicate the harmful effects we believe these cuts will have, and so a group of students joined together to form the Bethel Community Music Initiative. The group recently went public, seeking and garnering involvement from a wide variety of Bethel community members. Students, alumni, parents and others are now coming together to communicate our love and care for the Bethel music community, to show our concern over the ill effects we believe these cuts will have and to hope that we might help open discussion between administration and faculty about the reinstatement of the music education major.

We want to clearly communicate that we did not choose this specific major because we believe the other eliminated music majors were less important or less worthwhile. Instead, we chose to focus on music education because it is currently the largest and most indispensable music major at Bethel and is the only degree that can certify a future music educator. The music education degree is vital to the music department's ability to flourish. We believe its reinstatement would allow the music department to maintain the core of its committed and unified Christian community.

Beyond the numbers, music education students are also some of the most committed students in their ensembles. They are deeply involved in every part of an ensemble through pursuing musical excellence, acting as student conductors, managing ensemble retreats and tours, creating continuity that links ensembles from year to year and learning how to walk in the footsteps of their directors. Even outside of the music department, these students are engaged members of other musical activities on campus, including the UNITED Ministry at Chapel, Vespers and the Bethel pep band. Lastly, the music education degree is also vital to the Christian presence that Bethel graduates can have as teachers in a highly interactive field.

For these reasons and more, we have come together to communicate our concern for the future of music at Bethel. We are also praying to exhibit a peaceful attitude, as we completely respect and trust Bethel’s administration. Nevertheless, we feel that must speak to this issue out of the love that we have for the Bethel music community.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. We would be deeply grateful if you, too, joined us in this effort. You can do so by “Like”-ing our Facebook page: Bethel Community Music Initiative. From there, you can click the link to our representative letter at our Change.org site, where you can lend your electronic signature in support. We thank everyone who has supported us already. We have over 400 signatures as of Sunday night. We look forward to continue bringing glory to God through music at Bethel.

Sincerely,
The Bethel Community Music Initiative, led by Bethel students:
Stephen Seaberg
Jared Hedges
Michael Urch
Michelle Hofeldt
Grant McEachern
(and others)

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