“Whatever He gives you – take that opportunity.” – Steve Hurst
Steve led the morning Chapel service with a short devotion of Psalm 133. He pointed out that in this short chapter there are two mountains mentioned. “As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion : for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133:3)
One is tall, the other short – but we find that God rained on the big mountain just as much as He rained on the little one! Steve applied that to the students and their ministries. He told everyone not to be discouraged if they don’t sing in a “big” group, or if it seems like their ministry isn’t reaching as far as other ministries are, because God will bless the small groups just as much as he will bless the big ones! ~ for it says here, that God sent the same amount of dew for both the big and the little mountains!
There was a special song called Heartbeat that Steve wanted us to hear that morning, so the teachers put together a “faculty” quartet to come sing it for us! This quartet included: Gary Casto, Riley Clark, Sheri Forbes and Mary Anne. Steve went on to speak about the Spirit of the Lord and what He would have us to do when He is working. “When the Lord speaks to you to do something…do it right then!” Steve said, “Don’t wait and end up missing opportunities to share or encourage others.” Mike Donovan came and sang Glory To His Name, then Steve dismissed us to our classes.
Matthew Holt taught the morning piano class – during the week he was getting a lot of questions in lessons for a certain style of playing, so he decided to teach on that for his class instead of what was listed in the schedule. Want to take a guess what he taught? – the same formula he taught me in my private lesson! As Martha would say, “This is a very good thing.”
“If a song cannot stand on melody and lyric alone – it’s probably not a good song.” Stephan Nix said during the songwriting class. Once again, I was able to jump on over to the Humanities building and catch a bit of the songwriting class before lunch. This session was my favorite of the week, and was entitled “The Music Biz.” This was when Stephan talked about royalties, licensing, and some other fun interesting facts! Did you know that when an artist records a song that is five minutes long or longer, they have to pay more in royalties than if a song was four minutes? More minutes = more royalties…so, that is why artists don’t like five minute songs!
After lunch…which consisted of chicken (AGAIN)! – I skipped on over to the piano lab and clocked an hour or two of practice. Before I knew it, two o’clock rolled around and it was time to head over to my private songwriting lesson with Sheri Thrower. Sheri sings with Phil Cross and Poet Voices, and also teaches songwriting, vocal and works with groups at SHS. She is a busy lady! I really liked her approach to writing. She pointed out some really helpful things to use when writing. For example, you want the words of your verse and chorus to create pictures and phrases that point the listener back to the title of the song. Basically, keep the thoughts all going in the same direction! I learned a lot from Sheri!
At three o’clock I had a private piano lesson with Larry Buchanan. (Most of the students have the same teacher twice at least one time during the week). Since I had Larry yesterday and only 24 hours to practice what he taught me – I was a bit nervous! So, I simply showed him what I worked on and we went from there. After he clarified some things, he went on to show me some tricks and exercises to help my “thumb.” I notice when I play scales my thumb is a little slow in getting from note to note, and Larry showed me an exercise that will help in that area. (Funny thing is – I never asked him about it! He just showed it to me!) …must have saw something in my playing that gave em’ a clue! LOL!
When my lesson with Larry was finished, it was time for the last piano class of the day. Andrew Ishee was scheduled to teach this one, but graciously let Channing Eleton have his class (cause Andrew taught Channing’s class the other day – they did the good ole switcheroo!) Channing said that he was out yesterday and one of the other teachers called him and asked what day Channing was supposed to teach. Channing said the minute he heard the question, he remembered that day was his to teach! It all worked out good in the end though! Channing felt the Lord leading him to do something a little different with this class. So instead of teaching about the piano, he had (everyone that wanted too) tell what the Lord has been doing in their life. The response was amazing – about half of the class shared something! Like I’ve mentioned before, the piano class was a fairly quiet bunch, so it was really amazing to hear all of these stories! Next,
Channing had everyone share a prayer request and then took the rest of the class time to pray for those requests. As Channing prayed, he went to each individual, placed his hand on their shoulder and prayed for them by name … and with their prayer request! That really touched me. We had roughly 20 people in the piano class, that’s a lot of names to remember – and not only did he remember everyone’s name, but their prayer request also! When he closed the prayer time, Pat, a sweet lady from Canada, suggested that someone pray for Channing since he prayed for all of us. She prayed for him, and when she was finished Channing had tears in his eyes … as many of us did too! Channing shared a story at the end of class that really drove the point home. One night he was working in his office on something that was really important when he heard his daughter fall in the other room and start crying. He said that he heard her call “daddy” when she fell – then, it didn’t matter how important his work was, he dropped it immediately and went to his little girl, picked her up and held her while she cried. “I think that’s how it is with God,” said Channing, “it doesn’t matter what He’s doing, when He hears us cry out to Him, He will always be there.”
Concert with Gold City:
Thursday night we had our evening concert with Gold City. When Steve introduced them he proudly announced that Danny Riley was a student at the very first SHS! … and this week at SHS there were 1,000 lessons given and 200 classes! Wow!
Gold City kicked off their set with Somebody Sing Me A Gospel Song, sung back to back with He’s Everywhere I Go, a medium tempo song featuring Craig. By Your Grace and For Your Glory followed. “We are here to lift up and glorify the name of our God,” Danny said, as the intro for the next song came on. When the audience heard the first few words of I Cast My Bread Upon The Water, they gave a clap of recognition. This song also had the first “low note” of the concert and was rewarded with many shouts. “Well thank you so much. It is so good to be here!” Danny said, talking to the audience. “As Steve mentioned, I came to the first school and continued to come until 1996, when I went out on the road with Gold City.” He continued to share that he also met his wife at SHS. “Back then, the school was two weeks, and it was a good place to “surf”… and I wasn’t too bad lookin’ back then either!” The audience loved that part! He went on to tell of some of the quartets that influenced Gold City over the years and even wanted to sing a song in tribute to one. The song was It Won’t Be Long, it had a Black Gospel feel to it, and Danny did a fantastic job with the style! Craig’s solo was a medium tempo song, He’s Still On The Throne. Dan K. (tenor) was featured on a classic that brought the house down! The famed number was none other than God’s Building A Church. By the first chorus, not only was the audience clapping their hearts out, but they stood through the whole song too! This called for an encore that kept the crowd just as excited! At this point, Danny Riley began to introduce everyone. Dan Keeton, tenor singer for the group, was first. Danny R. asked the crowd, “How many tenor singers are here?” After taking in a quick count, he replied, “Ya’ know what that means? – Ya’ll are fixin’ to get offended!” I guess Tim told Danny once that “all tenor singers are wired backwards.” Anyway, Dan Keeton took the lead on O, What A Savior, and I’m Rich followed back to back. At the end, a few people from the crowd yelled, “Do it again!” Unfortunately, they didn’t, instead, they introduced Craig (lead singer) and Bryan (pianist). When Bryan walked over to stand next to Danny while being introduced, there was suddenly a spontaneous burst of giggles from the audience. A lady blurted out, “He’s so little!” (He did look really short standing next to Danny!) When Danny said that he’s 25 years old, a different person from the top of the auditorium could be heard saying, “Really?” Throughout the next few minutes you could hear short bursts of laughter from the audience. (They weren’t being mean; the audience was just captivated and amused with Danny’s comments regarding Bryan). Bryan played a piano solo, Keep On The Firing Line, and received a standing ovation. When He Blessed My Soul followed and Danny went to intro, Tim (his Dad), stepped up and talked about the world’s current events and how they and what we read in Scripture of the end times – point up. He continued to encourage Believers not to be afraid because God has it under control. If you guessed that the good ole song Under Control was next, you are right! That one was sung back to back with I’m Not Giving Up. Danny gave a good talk about not giving up at the end. He said something like, “I’m so glad I don’t have to give up! The Christian life is not always an easy road … if you are being effective for the kingdom; the Devil is going to want to knock you down. We have to always be on guard, the Bible says that we are to get up every morning and put on the whole armor of God.” Somewhere he transitioned into talking about “truth” – which set up perfectly for Truth Is Marching On. (Another standing ovation!) The concert was wrapped up with Midnight Cry, featuring Craig. This great classic also received a standing ovation, and with that, Steve dismissed us.
Conclusion: The last time I saw Gold City was at an electric co-op, and I thought perhaps they didn’t have energy because of the crowd … or maybe I should say, the lack there-of! Well, the audience at SHS was the polar opposite: they’d shout, scream, clap, stand – do whatever they could to encourage the artists. Unfortunately, Gold City didn’t sing with anymore enthusiasm here, than they did at the co-op. Usually, it can be said that a crowd can kill the singers with their lack of enthusiasm, well, this time; you could say that the singers killed the audience. The crowd gave many standing ovations, clapped through songs numerous times and was all and all very encouraging to GC – but nothing the crowd did could get the guys excited or wound up! It was so contrary to every other night where the Spirit had just filled the building! The contrast was so stark that Steve didn’t even bother to give an altar call at the end of the evening. Just in case anyone would say that I’m being too hard on GC, (and that’s not my intention) I’ll tell you this little story… One of the guys in the sound class asked another student what they thought of the GC concert. He used two words to describe their concert, his honest opinion of what he saw and heard. He went on to explain that he had never heard of Gold City. Being from the “north” and not exposed to many SGM groups, this was his first time to see them. (He wasn’t prejudiced one way or the other regarding GC) He said that he wouldn’t go see them again because there was just nothing in their singing. A GC fan myself, that was sad to hear. Now we all know that the members of Gold City are excellent vocalists!!! I’m sure it’s the spirit of the school speaking when I say I want people who have never heard SGM to be excited about it when they hear it – if they aren’t, how are we going to spread the joy of Gospel music?!!! Time is short people, soon, we will no longer have the opportunity to win souls for the Kingdom … so let’s take the opportunities given us each day to share the gospel message with a lost and dying world and encourage one another to stand true to His Word and lift up the name of Jesus Christ as we watch and wait for the shout!