By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
PHC Chorale prepares to perform at Commencement exercises, Dr. Steve McCollum conducting
“It’s a lot of work,” said the College’s Director of Music. “We’ve been writing curriculum, building Chorale traditions, and waiting for facilities [in the Hodel Center]. Now we’re starting to see the connections form.”
When the Barbara Hodel Center opens in the fall, PHC’s Music students will have access to brand new recording studios and practice rooms. This fall, they will also be able to study piano or voice for credit and take classes in conducting or music theory. Students will also have the opportunity to apply their skills in a variety of ways: singing in the PHC Chorale, which performs throughout the region and holds a concert each semester; performing in a small chamber music ensemble; serving high-schoolers in the Youth Music Academy; and leading PHC chapel worship.
Others will find themselves serving in their local churches. Senior Ben Guido, for example, who signed up for the CLA: Music track in the spring, heads up the worship team at his church, Guilford Baptist. Still, he considers music more of an “avocation than a vocation,” and hopes to attend graduate school in an academic discipline one day.
“I’ve most appreciated [the Music track’s] insight into music as worship,” he says.
In this way, Guido typifies what McCollum envisions for the College’s music program—to develop servant leaders who are grounded in a vast breadth of knowledge. McCollum notes that few college music departments offer a hands-on service component to their programs. At PHC, this emphasis flows naturally from the College’s apprenticeship model, he explains, observing that the musical arts have always been considered a “pillar of classical education,” one of the four disciplines of the quadrivium, along with arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy.
“Music complements our classical curriculum,” says McCollum. “It particularly stands out as a platform for servant leadership in our culture. We have a responsibility to hone these skills to serve our community, even if people don’t plan to become professional musicians.”
Opportunities to perform, McCollum added, are growing as well. These outlets include PHC’s Youth Music Academy, which is on an “increasingly rigorous performance schedule,” both in the community and through its own concert schedule. The Chorale, as well, continues to establish its reputation with concerts, church performances, and joint events with other colleges’ musical groups.
“It’s especially good for our students, with their goals to become leaders, to interact with the wider community,” McCollum says. “Musical participation can help with that.”