By Esther Fultz
Good professors create a warm, welcoming environment for students to learn while simultaneously challenging them to grow and improve. They are passionate about student’s academic success but ultimately prioritize students’ spiritual health and service to others.
Senior Professor of Music and Director of the Concert Chorale, and Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy and Director of the Keyboard Pedagogy Program, Mrs. Connie Anderson fit this description well. Both Cedarville graduates, Dr. and Mrs. Anderson have worked at the university for 54 and 52 years respectively, enriching the lives of many students while witnessing many advancements in the Music and Worship Department during their time here.
“I love the students,” Mrs. Anderson said. “Lyle drops me off every morning, and as I walk from our car into the DMC where I teach, I pray for my students and their classes and I thank the Lord for this opportunity. I love keeping track of the students after they graduate, begin their careers and build their marriages. Some of our Fit to Be Tied couples are keyboard pedagogy majors and just watching them walk through life with the Lord brings me great joy.”
While music was a passion for both of the Andersons from an early age, neither of them initially desired to pursue a career in music. Dr. Anderson grew up wanting to be a pediatrician and Mrs. Anderson wanted to be a nurse well into her high school years.
“My passion for music started when I began teaching piano at the age of 13,” Mrs. Anderson said. “My teacher was very gracious and gave me some of his students to teach, but throughout high school, I decided I wanted to be a nurse, so the musical part dwindled a bit. But I ended up getting a music scholarship and Cedarville was really the only school that could provide what I needed for that scholarship, so came here.”
Mrs. Anderson had only planned to stay at Cedarville for two years and then transferelsewhere to complete her nursing degree, but that quickly changed.
“I ended up accompanying Lyle for his voice lessons,” Mrs. Anderson said. “I think all that accompanying really created a love for making music together and showed me that I really love music and I thoroughly enjoy being a part of it.”
For Dr. Anderson, his passion for music stemmed from his local church. Singing was very much prevelant in every service, including Wednesday nights and youth group activities.
“I began piano lessons at age 10 and in elementary school, drums were an interest,” Dr. Anderson said. “Neither of my parents nor Connie’s were musical but they saw the value of involving us in music, and we both found that we loved it and God had given us an affinity for it.”
Dr. Anderson continued to participate in musical activities throughout high school. He participated in the choirs, played tuba in the band, was drum major in the marching band, played piano in a jazz ensemble and performed in the school musical, all of which led to his desire to be a high school music teacher. This was his goal until his sophomore year at Cedarville when Dr. Warren Webber, chair of the Music Department, asked him if he would be interested in returning to Cedarville one day to teach music theory.
“I said, ‘Wow, that is something I could really picture myself doing!’” Dr. Anderson said. “Two weeks after graduating from Cedarville, I was on the faculty. This prompted my graduate study at The Ohio State University.”
Mrs. Anderson taught piano lessons during her days as a Cedarville student and was hired as an adjunct piano professor after graduating, teaching a large studio of Cedarville students from the Andersons’ home. Her teaching role expanded after their two children graduated from Cedarville. Dr. Chuck Clevenger, chair of the music department at that time, encouraged her to get her master’s degree in Keyboard Pedagogy for the new program Cedarville hoped to create.
“Keyboard Pedagogy programs were brand new, but it was very interesting,” Mrs. Anderson said. “I attended a couple of conferences and then decided to pursue graduate studies in this field. I just knew that was where the Lord wanted me, so little by little teaching as an adjunct moved into a full-time position.”
The creation of the Keyboard Pedagogy program was one of many significant advancements that the Andersons witnessed during their time at Cedarville. Other notable changes have included the addition of worship, composition and multiple B.A. programs. When the Andersons were students, there were 700 students and five full-time music faculty. Now the faculty number 14, with a host of adjunct professors teaching a wide variety of instruments.
For both Andersons, the students are what keeps them at Cedarville. Working in a Christian environment and being able to disciple students are always the highlights.
“It’s humbling to see our students become professional teachers themselves,” Dr. Anderson said. “It is so gratifying to know they’re going to use what they learned here. The fact that this is a Christ-centered university typically indicates that the students have a strong work ethic and they understand biblical stewardship of their abilities. They know why they are here so that makes our jobs very fulfilling.”
Cedarville’s music students use their talents in a wide variety of ways ranging from visiting the homes of elderly people and sharing music with them to singing in praise teams and choirs and accompanying worship in local churches. Many students participated in music-focused Global Outreach programs.
“We have been privileged to lead the Concert Chorale and smaller teams on 13 international tours which have been ministry-oriented,” Dr. Anderson said. “All of our music is chosen with a Gospel emphasis and our students frequently remark that these tours have been a turning point for them, not only in their musical lives but as experiences that have alerted them to the many facets of missions ministry.”
Keyboard Pedagogy students also consider the private lessons they teach as ministry opportunities. “We talk a lot about the impact they have upon private students,” said Mrs. Anderson. “Even though we do not offer a music therapy program, I teach some private students that are nursing majors and they’re excellent pianists, but they’re doing it as a kind of therapeutic outlet and some of our pedagogy majors are teaching their roommates for the same reason.”
Wherever they are and however they serve, Dr. and Mrs. Anderson can witness the divinely designed impact music has on both participants and audiences.
“Music is one of those special tools that allow us to apply God-given emotion to our theology and it is wonderful to celebrate that beautiful union,” said Dr. Anderson. It’s really special to see how music affects people; God created it to powerfully touch lives for His glory.”
Esther Fultz is a senior Social Work major and the Off Campus Editor for Cedars. When she’s not writing or editing for Cedars she enjoys thrifting, making coffee, exploring new places, and spending time with friends.
Photo by Scott Huck