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Lauren Shively - Master of Music in Church Music Degree, Class of 2012
Growing up, I always knew that I would be involved in music, but I could never figure out what my true calling was within the broad scope of music. Entering college as a freshman at St. Olaf College, I decided that I would be a Voice Performance major. I had always loved to sing and figured that it was the path that made the most sense for someone who loved singing so much. I quickly realized, however, that the performance world and the lifestyle that accompanies it was not for me, but I was still uncertain of what exactly it was that I wanted to do with music. At the end of my freshman year, I was looking through the course catalogue as I prepared for registration. I saw a handful of classes that interested me that were also a part of the church music program. Since those were the only additional courses on top of what I already had to take for voice, I decided that I had better apply to be a Church Music major in order to secure my spot in those classes. I had no intention of working in the church, I simply wanted to take those classes and figured that having two majors would always look better than just one. I took all of the classes and I learned so much about myself in doing so. Early into my senior year, I had finally figured out what I really love about music. I love performing and I love directing, but most of all I love teaching. To me, the best part about Church Music is that it allows me to do all three things that I love: perform, direct, and teach.
Once I figured out that Church Music was the best way to serve God by using the talents He has given me, I quickly realized that I needed more education in the field. I asked around the church music department and unfortunately, everyone seemed to keep pushing me towards schools that had great music programs, but not necessarily great choral and vocal programs. I was not willing to compromise my desires for a great music program, so I continued asking around. Eventually, Dr. Anton Armstrong discovered that I was searching for a strong church music program, and quickly came to me and began raving about Baylor, a school all the way down in Texas. At first, I was completely turned off simply because I was not interested in moving to Texas. After further exploring the school and the program, however, it hit me. It was as if God Himself was standing in front of me telling me that I was supposed to be at Baylor. I quickly applied to Baylor and Baylor alone. I was accepted shortly after and decided to come to Baylor without ever even visiting the school.
In the middle of the summer before school started, I was asked by Dr. Music to attend the Alleluia Conference, which I very nervously did. I knew by the end of the first few hours being there that I had made the right decision as such caring students and inspiring faculty surrounded me. At the end of the conference, I left feeling as if I had made some great connections and already learned so much in the way of music ministry simply from watching Dr. Bradley lead worship. In late August, I returned to familiar faces and my new adventures as a graduate student. Since I have been at Baylor, I have taken so many classes that have grown me to be the church musician I am today. What I appreciate most about Baylor though is that the faculty members are truly willing to take the time to talk to you outside of class about whatever challenges you may be facing in your church position or even in your own daily life. What has amazed me most is how connected the faculty is to church musicians around the country and world, and how I have made so many connections through them and the activities that the Center for Christian Music Studies sponsors. I feel like I am now ready to go out into the world and share what I have learned. I am so looking forward to taking the skills and practical knowledge I have gained here at Baylor to wherever it is that God calls me next.