Orchestra Director Affirms the Power of Academy Music

Story by Janel Haas Ware

Shenandoah Valley Academy’s (SVA) music ministry combines the power of music and the sacredness in the lives of young people who graduate prepared to serve God with their musical talents. One such student is now orchestra director and strings teacher, Kelly Wiedemann (’03), who shares her testimony:

Attending SVA confirmed my life calling as a music teacher. Singing in Shenandoans, the school choir, and playing violin in the string ensemble was fun! The teachers exposed us to many styles of music, and I gained sincere appreciation for traditional church hymns, contemporary praise music, African-American spirituals, classical symphonies and country hoedowns. Teaching a wide variety of music promotes creativity, cultural awareness, tolerance and respect. 

My dream was always to return to SVA and give back to the school by teaching. And thanks to the good Lord’s plan, here I am! Strings. Orchestra. Music Appreciation. Bach and Beethoven to Bluegrass and Bucket Drums. The variety of music that students experience in a full academy music program brings an assortment of rewarding results—and immense joy! 

There is nothing like watching “city kids” clap along to country fiddle tunes, or pop music devotees discover the joy of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” announcing, “Miss Wiedemann, I study classical music now!” Orchestra collaboration can soften the toughest of students, transforming “rebels without a cause” into team members who are passionate leaders for God. Students struggling in every area of life often come alive on stage. Others have demonstrated that sometimes the most powerful sermon is a song without words.

SVA music brings students of all backgrounds together to make beautiful music and share the love of God with each other and our audiences. To have a hand in this experience? For me, there is no greater honor.

5 Ways to Prepare for Academy Music

1. Listen to lots of music! Students with varied musical exposure and interest help create a rich school music culture.

2. Take private lessons. Private lessons prepare student musicians to join orchestra and ensembles when they begin academy as freshmen.

3. Frequent concerts and worship services at the academy you plan to attend. You will be spiritually blessed and learn what to expect when you participate in academy music ministry.

4. Ask current and future music teachers about auditions. Learn what to expect and how to prepare for auditions. Show up on audition day with a plan and prepared music.

5. Use your musical talents to glorify God. Perform in front of your family, friends, school and church at every opportunity to honor God and bless others.