At Word Alive (WA) 2018, the Music Network (MN) group was 44 strong, including students, Relay Workers, UCCF staff, and a visiting missionary! And that's not to mention the sizeable number of students staying with their own CUs who also came to the training track, which was called 'Music and the Glory of God', three seminars given by Network co-ordinator Tom Chevis.
Danielle Bees is (at the time of writing) in her first year of a composition masters at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (and hails from the USA), David Reavley is in his final term studying music at the University of Cambridge, and Jenny Key is a final year violist at the Royal College of Music. We asked them some questions about their experience.
Q1: How did you find the MN experience this year at Word Alive?
- Danielle: I really enjoyed my time staying with the Music Network at Word Alive. Having never been before, it all seemed so overwhelming and yet exciting. I could tell that everyone just wanted to make the most of the experience, which was very refreshing. Though I was the only American staying with the MN, I did not feel out of place. The other students welcomed me and got to know me. I loved getting to meet new people and forge new friendships. It seems to me that no matter where I am at in the world, a group of Christian musicians who gather together all seem to face the same struggles and have many of the same passions as I do, though we're not all from the same countries! It was so inspiring to see other music students wanting not only to grow in their musicianship, but to also discover how they can use their gifts and excellence in music to spread God's love wherever they go and to continue to build His Kingdom.
- David: This was also my first time at Word Alive, hopefully of several, plus I stayed with my CU, not the Music Network. Nonetheless, the experience was excellent for me: time with friends in CU and bumping into people, and getting to know new people at the MN sessions - all really worthwhile.
- Jenny: I loved it this year, even though I'm now 'ancient' and slept through most of the late-night games! The Music Network felt a lot different this year to my previous ones - I think there was a much wider range of colleges and universities represented, and a much higher chance of meeting new friends (and getting to know old ones better) which is great! In fact, I liked it better this year due to the range of different aspects of being a Christian musician that we covered - and that we looked at what it means to live for the glory of God in this context in so much depth.
Q2: What particularly struck you from the MN sessions?
- Danielle: The session on idolatry impacted me a lot because I think as musicians, we are more susceptible to idolising our craft. It is so important as a musician who is incredibly passionate about her craft to be reminded of this on a regular basis. The session on mission impacted me as I was reminded that though I have come to Scotland to continue my studies in music, God has also called me here to evangelise and to love all of the people I have met and will continue to meet who I would have never encountered had I not moved from America.
- David: I’m taking away the need to remember that God is supremely and Otherly glorious in a way that’s alien and difficult to get right, and how that then diminishes my view of myself (particularly coming up to finals and the pressure to trust myself, not God). Likewise the idolatry session cut to the heart of academic work in its necessarily self-glorifying tendencies, which I’m definitely not getting right yet (but maybe getting there), and I’m grateful for the clear, incisive, Scriptural, musician-targeted teaching on that.
- Jenny: I was particularly struck by the music and mission session - I've never thought there might be Christian music opportunities abroad! I now may pursue one of these in the future.
Q3: What was the best aspect of the rest of the WA experience?
- Danielle: I loved the time I got to spend with current friends and with new friends, and the opportunity to gather with thousands of other Christians and have solid biblical teaching and different seminars on really relevant and sometimes difficult issues that would probably not be talked about in a regular church setting. I gained so much from the experience: biblically, spiritually, and relationally.
- David: Perhaps the best thing is being around thousands of other Christians thoroughly loving learning about our God together and sharing what we’re thinking and making contact and growing together. The Music Network was a big part of that, especially meeting other Christian musicologists from around the country and starting getting our heads together to grow resources for Christian musicologists. I think this will definitely be a highlight of my 2018!
- Jenny: Going to the beach and epically losing a game of frisbee - I can confirm that it is indeed 'the taking part that counts!'