“I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord.” Psalm 27:6.

It is a biblical expectation that God’s people will make music to the Lord. At Gloria Deo Academy, we are helping train students for this important way of glorifying God. Classical education includes a passion for the arts. The music ensembles of GDA exemplify the values and mission of Gloria Deo Academy while also offering great opportunities and benefits for our students. 

We are extremely fortunate to offer Choir, Orchestra, and Band ensembles to our students. Each area has a terrific and experienced teacher who loves your students. Sharon Wilkins directs the choir, Lynnette Staswick conducts the orchestras, and I (Dan Updegrave) have the honor of leading the bands. We have 7 ensembles that include choir, beginning orchestra, intermediate orchestra, advanced orchestra, beginning band, intermediate band, and advanced band. I hope your families will seriously the consider the benefits of participating in at least one of these ensembles in the future. 

Participating in a music ensemble at GDA brings together many of the elements of classical education. In the beginning level we learn the knowledge of music, notes, rhythms, and the mechanics of our instruments. At first, we learn to imitate and copy. As musicians develop, they take these foundations and add expression and interpretation to their skills. At our highest levels students can take on the challenges of district and state solo and ensemble competitions. Their fundamentals, interpretation, and expression abilities join in collaboration with other musicians or their accompanist for inspiring performances that represent the best of Gloria Deo Academy.  

Music ensembles are an integral part of a classical education. But it is also important to note there is more than just music education occurring. Our ensembles often become a place of belonging for students seeking a place to fit in. The once bashful student grows in confidence behind the instrument of their choice. The routine of practice develops self-discipline and goal setting that benefits students throughout their lives. Our musicians learn teamwork through the notes of harmony and discover the importance of their individual effort as they hear their part add to the overall sound. At home, many families discover the joy of making music together as a new instrument or voice grows in the house. You probably have seen studies showing that listening to classical music boosts brain development. However, you may have missed how much more brain development is aided by PLAYING an instrument instead of just listening! (Penn Medicine News Blog, Jan. 30, 2017) The best part is, you never age out of music. These benefits are available for the rest of life.  

Finally, and most importantly, our growth in music gives us another opportunity and skill for glorifying God.  The command to “sing” is the most common command in all of God’s Word, occurring over 50 times. I do not think it is inaccurate to expect some type of instruments to also be present at those moments of singing.  One of my favorite opportunities as band teacher, pastor, and former worship leader, is to help a student use their musical gifts for God in their local church. As the music styles and church schedules adjust with fewer children’s choirs, young handbell groups, or other music learning opportunities in the church, GDA serves our churches well by helping to prepare musicians of all types for our churches.  

There are many other benefits and blessings I could brag about for the music ensembles of GDA, but I will save a few for our recruiting meetings coming later this spring!! I hope you will seriously consider joining us next year.  Choir is currently available for 7th-12th grade. Orchestras & Bands for 4th grade through 12th grade. I am planning an exciting addition during the 2023-2024 school year of an accelerated beginning band during 8th hour on Tuesdays/Thursdays for 7-12th graders who might like to have a low-pressure opportunity to learn an instrument even if they did not start at an earlier age.  Like all the programs at GDA, it is exciting to watch these grow and look forward to greater opportunities ahead. Obviously, band is the coolest option that you want to start with! (Band director bias had to be expected right?) But honestly, you will be blessed by choosing to support and participate in any of our fine arts ensembles. You can get a taste of our opportunities at the Spring Concert on April 27th at the Golden campus. We would love for you to join us in making music for the glory of God!  

For more information feel free to contact Dan Updegrave, GDA Director of Bands, dupdegrave@gloriadeoacademy.org