musician with french horn

Trained for the Church and the World | MBU Musicians

It’s 10 a.m. on a Saturday. A cacophony of classical selections, hymns, and choral arrangements played on a variety of instruments fills the music hall. In a practice room at the end, a vocalist warms up. Not only will the weekend be full of practicing, but these student musicians will be serving in a wide range of church ministries on Sunday. From orchestra accompaniment to vocal or instrument special music, these musicians demonstrate the heartbeat of Maranatha’s mission statement: they are trained leaders for the church and the world.


If you have heard anything about studying music in college, you probably heard that students spend a lot of time practicing. Each hard-working musician puts in countless hours of practice from the time they begin their program to the time they graduate. But hard work pays off. Over the last ten years, Maranatha’s music graduates have scored on average in the 92nd percentile on the national standardized music test. This year, the music graduates scored in the 99th percentile.

Music students also attend, perform, and critique performances at weekly instrument-specific repertoire classes. These repertoire classes feature members of the Milwaukee Symphony, area professionals, and our own faculty. Included in these classes are discussions of historic performances and reading new literature.

Semesters for a Music or Music Education student revolve heavily around music classes and involvement in musical activities; choir, band, orchestra, recitals, concerts, teaching and preparing lessons, special music in churches and Maranatha’s chapel hour, or the Great Lakes Music Festival. 

The busy schedule that music students keep can be strenuous and the faculty’s high expectations can be daunting, but the preparation that it gives for graduate school and future careers is worth it. 

Adam Kieckhafer (Music Education, ‘07), a band director at a public school, found that despite these things, he was ready for his career. “Maranatha thoroughly prepared me for my professional career as a high school band director. I am grateful that Maranatha instructors always hold students to a high standard.”

“The school I currently teach at accepts a fair amount of student teachers from Maranatha,” Kieckhafer continues, “and my principal and colleagues frequently state that they are amazed at how Maranatha student teachers are always mature and ready to teach. I too felt quite comfortable in the classroom right from the start. The rigorous schedule for music majors at Maranatha also prepared me for the incredibly busy schedule as a high school band director.”


One of the greatest opportunities that Maranatha offers to train music teachers is the Maranatha Music Prep School. This program allows students to teach individual and group lessons to students in the Watertown community. 

Sarah Stevens (Piano Pedagogy, ‘11) found the Music Prep School to be an excellent avenue to put into practice what she was learning in the classroom. “I had the opportunity to teach private lessons, group lessons, and early childhood classes for 3 years before graduating. Throughout the years, the pedagogy faculty mentored me and helped me to continuously improve as a teacher,” Stevens says. 

Is your career dream to develop young musicians and share your passion for music? Did you know that you can be a career musician and not starve to death? It will take work to be an excellent musician, entrepreneur, and teacher, but at Maranatha, you will be trained in all three areas. 

Allison Rhodes (Music, ’18), the owner of Perfect Blend Music Studio, says, “As an incoming freshman, my career goal was to be an independent studio owner. With that in mind, I chose a major in Music with concentrations in General Music and Piano Pedagogy. In addition to the music core classes, my pedagogy class content and projects were practical, as well as insightful. We delved into topics such as setting tuition rates, dealing with sticky situations, creating a studio policy, and teaching beginner to advanced level students.

“Simultaneously, student teaching in the Maranatha Music Prep School allowed me to fine-tune my teaching style under an experienced supervising teacher, as well as taking my academic class concepts and fleshing them out in real-life teaching scenarios. Upon graduation, I felt prepared to go into the lifestyle as a studio owner, armed with my ‘teaching toolbox’ and experiences to set up my studio for success,” Rhodes states.


Perhaps your desire isn’t to teach but to simply improve your talent for use in ministry. Maranatha’s connection with local churches in the southern part of Wisconsin allows their music students to be actively involved in music ministry. 

Dr. David Brown (BA, MM Trombone Performance, DMA Choral Conducting) often opens the floor in his classroom to see what and how his students are doing in their music ministry. “We ask them each and every Monday about their ministry on the weekends and throughout the week,” Brown says. 

Area churches are thankful for the musicians that come from Maranatha with a desire to serve. Dr. Michael Gordon, a Maranatha alumnus and local pastor, says, “In the many years I have served as pastor at First Baptist we have had many students and graduates from Maranatha be involved in our music program. They have contributed very proficiently to our worship with their talents in voice as well as instrumentals. I have been most impressed with their own personal desires to glorify the Lord with their music. We thank the Lord for the way they conduct themselves and add great encouragement to our church body through the ministry of music.”


So, how do you get started on making a difference through music? While the faculty are ready and willing to meet you where you’re at and help you grow, the sooner you communicate your goals with them, the better. Start today by getting to know the faculty and read more about what sets the Maranatha Music department apart from other conservative schools. Explore your options to visit Maranatha and interact with faculty and current students at the Great Lakes Music Festival or Music and Drama Camp.  

Apply today for Maranatha’s Music program and join others who are being trained as leaders for the church and the world.