Music has long been an important part of education at Gem State Adventist Academy, and generations of students have grown in their musical skills while attending and learning under a number of talented directors.
For many years, the music group options have included choir, band and handbells. Some years other groups, such as select choir, have developed, and several years ago a beginning bell choir, dubbed with the name Ripples, was added to give students the opportunity to learn the basics and grow in their abilities before joining the more advanced group, Soundwave.
This year, Ronnie Anderson became GSAA’s newest music director. As the son of a music teacher, Anderson doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t making or conducting music.
While at UCA and WWU, music became a way of life to Anderson. Several influential teachers included his dad, Curtis Anderson, Dean Kravig in academy and Brandon Beck, WWU band director. Coincidentally, Kravig’s parents were teachers at GSAA for a number of years, teaching music and other classes, and many students benefited from their dedication. Ronnie Anderson majored in music at WWU, with trumpet being his major instrument.
A growing group of students has joined the GSAA music program this year, and Anderson loves interacting with them, introducing them to types of music they may not have previously experienced and even staying after class with students who are interested to show them “cool stuff” related to music. “A vast exposure to genres, cultures and styles of music aids in rounding out a person’s character and garners respect for others,” said Anderson.
It is important for students to learn that music is a ministry tool and that they can go out to their churches and lead in worship. “Skills such as persistence, confidence and group connection are acquired and molded through individual practice, group rehearsals and performances,” explained Anderson. “Music uses skills that apply to all disciplines, from kinesthetic to linguistic and mathematical.”
Anderson believes we often don’t realize how much music impacts our daily life experiences, from movie soundtracks to the way it affects our moods. “Students, and for that matter all of us, need to understand that what we choose to listen to matters,” he explained.
In the first quarter of the 2022–2023 school year, GSAA’s music groups have made huge progress in learning and producing great music. Students are enjoying new challenges. “It has been so awesome to see the choir grow and to practice fun music with my friends,” commented Ellie Borg, GSAA junior. All the groups came together and presented their first full concert in November 2022 and look forward to many more opportunities through the year.