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The Art of Conducting

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Adam Voth conducts in BC Chapel service
Photo by Vada Snider

This semester, I’m enrolled in the conducting class at Bethel. We began the semester simply learning the different patterns and how to cue with our opposite hand. The first major unit that we had in this class was hymn leading. We practiced new hymns each class period. The rest of the class sang parts as one person conducted. There was also a video camera that recorded each class period. This allowed us the opportunity to watch ourselves and comment on our own work. This unit ended with one final opportunity to conduct hymns. Each member of our class was able to conduct a hymn at the hymn sing during chapel. Half of the class conducted a hymn that they had been preparing for a couple of weeks. The other half of the class waited for a request, and then decided whether they could conduct the hymn. This was a good experience for our class to conduct a hymn in front of a congregation larger than our class.

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Christina and Michelle Naughton

Next, we moved onto an instrumental conducting unit. We looked at a number of movements in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Again, we were able to practice conducting in front of our classmates. This time, a few students brought their instruments to class. Our very small orchestra was made up of a saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, two cellos, and piano. We also went to a rehearsal for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. They were also performing The Rite of Spring. We got many tips from them and from watching their conductor, Bethel graduate, Dan Hege. We also were able to go to their performance this past weekend. Along with The Rite of Spring, they played Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe: Suite No. 2, and Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, which featured twins Christina and Michelle Naughton.

Now, we are moving on to a choral conducting project. We each selected one song that we will rehearse with the class until it is ready for performance. We will get the chance to perform our pieces for an audience at the beginning of November. A conducting concert is schedule for Sunday, November 3 at 7:00 in the chapel in the Bethel College Administration Building. Come hear the hard work of BC’s Conducting Class!

The last portion of our class is focusing on Handel’s Messiah for the annual Messiah Sing that happens at the end of each fall semester in Bethel College Mennonite Church. As you can tell, we have had quite a busy semester so far, and it will continue to be busy as we head towards the end of the semester!

A Weekend Away

Hey guys! Sorry it has been so long; this semester has definitely been a busy one! Although my schedule has been very full this semester, I enjoyed a short weekend off campus at Camp Mennoscah. My church, Tabor Mennonite Church, was having our bi-annual weekend campout at Camp Mennoscah.

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Smiling faces covered in taco salad and chocolate cake!

My family set out early Saturday afternoon. When we got to camp, we started moving into our cabin. We stayed in Sunrise this year. Members of our church stayed in the retreat center, in staff houses, or tents. We set off on a nature hike on Saturday afternoon. We found spiders, lizards, and many bugs. This is one of my favorite parts of camp: the opportunity to slow down and realize the beauty of nature that surrounds the camp. For supper, it is often a Camp Mennoscah tradition to eat taco salad without silverware or hands. My table decided to continue this tradition, and we ended up looking very messy! After supper, we left on a hayrack ride as the sun was setting.  Our theme for the weekend was “Radical Hospitality.” We talked about ways that we can welcome all people into God’s family. Marlene Bogard was our speaker for the weekend. She spoke at both campfire and at our Sunday morning worship. After campfire, we got into a very competitive game of four-square. We ended the night with several hours of SCUM, a card game. We played late (or early!) into the night!

DSCN2597We woke up very early on Sunday morning to start cooking breakfast. My family and another family worked together to make sure that breakfast was ready to go for the rest of the hungry campers. After a worship service and some more four-square and wood tag, we decided to spend some time by the river. Camp Mennoscah is located along the Ninnescah River. There is a dam with a very pretty waterfall. I find this to be a very peaceful and relaxing location to just sit and take in the beauty. Soon after lunch, it was time to leave camp and head back to our busy lives, which had been so patiently waiting for us to return.

DSCN2561We live in a world filled with technology, and I often find myself surrounded by it. When we left for camp, I realized that I accidentally left my cell phone at home. As the weekend went on, I realized that it was a good thing for me to get away from technology to spend time with others building new relationships and strengthening others. It was so necessary to get away for a weekend and spend some quality time with my church family. This weekend away was a learning experience for me as I took some time to slow down and take note of the beauty that surrounds me.

From Summer to School

Hello! My name is Michelle Unruh. I’m a junior from Goessel, Kansas studying music education. I am pretty involved at Bethel, which keeps me very busy. I’m involved in many musical ensembles on campus. I play bass clarinet in the wind ensemble. I also am an alto in the Concert Choir and Woven, Bethel’s student-led women’s a capella ensemble. I also enjoy taking piano and organ lessons. This year, I am also directing a choir at a church in the area, which I am really looking forward to!

I just finished my second summer in a row at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Michigan. Last year, I was on rotational staff and worked as a counselor, maintenance, and in the kitchen. I really enjoyed my summer, so I decided to go back for a second summer. This past summer, I spent ten weeks on the leadership staff. I was on the worship team and played guitar for Campfire and Quest, our morning worship time. I also helped to plan skits, devotions that each cabin used daily, and the summer’s theme, Rooted and Growing (Ephesians 3:16-17). In my spare time, I enjoyed leading activities such as Greased Watermelon or Whipped Cream Whiffleball, taking campers on pontoon rides on Lake Shavehead, going on hikes in the Peaceful Woods, or just relaxing on the beach. I had fun getting to know the other staffers as well as the campers that came to Camp Friedenswald. Being at camp was quite exhausting at times, but it was such a rewarding summer job. This was definitely a summer to remember!

I’m so excited for this semester! I have finished my general education courses, and I’m really enjoying all of the music and education classes that I am enrolled in. We’re halfway through our first week of classes, and the homework, assignments, and projects are starting to pile up. I had a really great summer working at Camp Friedenswald, but it is so good to be back at Bethel College with my fellow Threshers. I’m excited to see what this semester has in store for us!