For those of you who are interested in the Steve Hurst School of Music, I have put together this blog not only to highlight special moments of the day, but to give everyone an idea of what you might be doing if you choose to attend next year as a student. (Which I highly recommend!) Each day is different, and there is no promise that next year will be the same as this year, but I hope this helps everyone get a feel for what we did this year. Like I mentioned earlier, everyday is different, my intentions for this blog is to share with you what my Tremendous Thursday was like! Enjoy!
As you could imagine, my day officially began with my alarm clock doing it’s job very well, waking me out of a dead sleep. By 7:00 a.m. I was off to breakfast with my buddy I met Sunday night at orientation. After the moderate walk to the cafeteria, I worked up quite the appetite! Every morning for breakfast we had the choice between bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, cereal, fruit or some sort of pastry. That morning I opted for cereal. Once we had our food and drinks, we caught up with some other vocal students that we always sit with at meals and began our regular . . . “how did you sleep last night?” greetings. It was always fun hearing the answers, which usually was a resounding, “No, how about you?”
Chapel services started at eight fifteen sharp with singing praise and worship. Each day a different staff member would lead the singing, giving them all an opportunity to use their talents outside of teaching a class. Also, a vocal teacher would usually sing a solo or two. That particular morning, Steve asked if anyone would like to stand up and give a testimony of how the Lord has worked in their lives at school so far. The man who was saved on Wednesday night shared and a lady announced that she was going to start reading and studying the Word of God regularly. You could see the change in the people just by the conviction in which they spoke, it was awesome being able to witness such a powerful moving of the spirit in these peoples lives. Both Steve Hurst and Mark Trammell shared in the devotion for the day. Steve spoke from Ephesians 2:10, how Satan uses fear against the Body of Christ and why we don’t have to fear because we are His workmanship. Mark talked about the verse in the New Testament that says “we don’t have the spirit of fear, but of a sound mind.” He encouraged everyone to operate in God’s love – that’s how we get a sound mind! Only in Him!
Directly after Chapel the group lessons started for each school. Since I was in the piano school, I headed over to the building that held our classes each day. Every group class was taught by a different piano teacher, and Thursday we had the privilege of learning from Channing Eleton. He taught us about intro’s and fills, answered all our questions, and gave us some cool ideas to add to the music we play. At the end of our class, we had a little extra time, so he asked if anyone wanted to play anything. We had two volunteers. One was a lady who is a talented church pianist who plays by ear, and the second was a young man from PA who played How Great Thou Art. After that, Channing closed our class in prayer, then we recruited someone from another class to come take a class picture with Channing!
From there I scurried down to the next building to get in on the Songwriting class, where Stephen Nix was teaching on how to pitch your songs to groups, copyright laws, licenses, and a whole lot of other interesting things! I ended up with three pages of notes! Though I was very sad I missed the beginning and some important information, Stephen was kind enough to explain to me what I missed on our walk over to the cafeteria for lunch. That’s right! Two classes and it’s time for lunch! My does the time fly when you’re learning about music! Lunch was served daily from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm.
With Lunch over, I headed back over to the building I would be spending the rest of my afternoon in – The Curtsinger. There I had a private piano lesson with Stephen Butler (not to be confused with Stephen Nix, the songwriter!). We worked on arranging hymns and how the circle of 5ths plays a key role in making arranging a simple concept to understand with a beautiful outcome in sound. He also cleared up some confusion on my part with Diminished chords (also very interesting!).
From there, I walked down the hall to the Piano Lab, where there were keyboards available with private headphones to practice on. Stephen B. and Josh S. were the teachers overseeing the Lab at that time. In case I forgot to mention, the teachers in the Lab have a special keyboard and headphone set where they can listen to you play and give you tips . . .or just listen for their enjoyment. If you had any questions about playing, it was like getting an extra private lesson!
Three o’clock started my private songwriting lesson with Noel Bohannon. We talked about rhyme. There are certain types of rhyme that are considered better than others, and there are some words, that, even though they sound like they rhyme, when digging down into the science of writing, they don’t. It was definitely a valuable lesson.
After my songwriting lesson it was time to head back up stairs to another group piano lesson, only this time with Matthew Holt. Well, sort of! As many of you may or may not know, Matthew is the Director of Southern Gospel Music at Bethel University in McKenzie, TN. He had two very important people with him from the University who talked about their courses and what they had to offer. When they finished, it was off to dinner from 4:30 – 5:30 pm!
At 5:45 pm, my performance class began. I was in Group 1, and that night we had Mike Donovan as our leader. I was one of two piano students who played in the midst of the vocalists that evening. I was also selected to go FIRST! Actually, it wasn’t that bad. I played Roger Bennett’s arrangement of Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus . . . .by God’s grace, perfectly. The other lady who played piano, I was so proud of! She has only been playing for one year, and played How Great Thou Art by ear!
Since our performance class ran over the time limit, I had just enough time to walk over to the auditorium where the concerts were being held and get a seat before the Mark Trammell Quartet came on stage to give us a wonderful concert! They opened their concert with Gentle Shepherd, then went into Hallelujah I’m Going Home, How Big Is God and a new song that Dustin Sweatman wrote, called One Drop Of Blood. (Which is quickly becoming a favorite on my play list!) They sang many more old hymns and even a spiritual! The concert closed with Steve giving a heartfelt invitation to pray. Then it was time to go grab a snack at Chick-Fil-A and hit the sack!
So there you have it! That is what one day was like for me at the Steve Hurst School of Music! It was full, fun, very educational and encouraging! (Hey! Stephen Nix would like that – two alliterations in a row! . . .never mind.)
An interesting observation from the week. With people from so many different time zones, it was interesting to hear at what time of day it was when they were eating their meals at the school. For instance, the ppl from Canada were eating dinner at 2:30 in the afternoon! For me, it was 3:30 pm. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but think about it – breakfast was being served at 4:00 am their time~! After the evening concerts, there was a mad dash for Chick-Fil-A and Pizza Hut at the Paul Conn Center! Many of us were ready to eat!!! LOL!