ROME — In any learning experience the teacher, the professor, the educator, the pedagogue is the most important ingredient. American psychiatrist Karl Menninger explains, “What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.” Michael Morpurgo, Britain’s best-loved author of children’s books, states, “It’s the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom.”
At Shorter University, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, which includes the Department of Music, is one of the best in the Southeast. The quality of this facet of Shorter’s academic program is certainly due to the knowledge, skill, spirit, and faith of the faculty.
Anyone who chooses to investigate or explore the conservative-style education provided by this vital School in Shorter University’s academic offering is sure to be pleasantly surprised at the profound and positive transformation that has taken place in recent years.
Dr. John D. Reams, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Shorter, is an affable and gracious Christian gentleman, a gifted musician and featured soloist throughout the United States and Canada. He is also an associate professor of Woodwinds, teaching clarinet and saxophone. He received his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of South Carolina, a Master of Music in Woodwind Performance at Florida State University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature at the University of Illinois.
Dr. John Michael McCluskey, gregarious and animated, is the chair of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Shorter University and serves as assistant professor of Music. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. He holds a Ph.D and M. A. in Musicology and Ethnomusicology from the University of Kentucky, where he recently completed his dissertation on music in American college football.
McCluskey is a Kentucky Wildcat sports fanatic, as evidenced by his recent trip to Knoxville only to see the Tennessee Volunteers beat his favored Wildcats by a score of 82-80. He drove back to Rome after the game and arrived at the bewitching hour of 2 a.m. He was still bemoaning the Kentucky loss 13 hours later as he shared his thoughts about his role at Shorter.
In his dissertation McCluskey speaks of how the music chosen during the course of a football game “communicates meaning beyond the entertainment value” and how “selections reinforce the game’s emotional drive, cue celebrations, direct specific audience actions, and prompt behaviors that can directly impact the game.”
McCluskey is a Baptist with a long Baptist heritage and believes that the right kind of music can help students face some of the secular philosophies that permeate so much of our society today.
Dr. Aaron M. Rice, typically decked out in a colorful bowtie and as personable as anyone you could meet, is an assistant professor of Music and director of Choral Activities in the Edith Lester Harbin Department of Music at Shorter University.
Rice earned the Master of Music degree in Sacred Music and Choral Conducting at East Carolina University and the Bachelor of Arts degree in both biblical studies and comprehensive music from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts in Church Music and Choral Conducting at Southwestern Seminary. Among his many positions of honor, he is an executive board member of the Baptist Church Music Conference.
Training future ambassadors
Rice stated, “I believe we can positively and redemptively impact the world of performing arts. There are few top-notch performers who want to do that, who want to share Christ. We have a faculty who could serve in any university in the country. And, we can train our students to have great performance skills and be good ambassadors for Christ in the world of performing arts.”
Dr. Duane Warfield, who appears to take a personal interest in everyone he meets, is in his second semester at Shorter University. He is an assistant professor of Music and director of Bands in the Edith Lester Harbin Department of Music at Shorter.
Prior to his appointment at Shorter, Dr. Warfield taught at Starkville Academy in Starkville, MS and led the orchestra at First Baptist Church in Starkville as the director of Instrumental Ministries. Under his leadership, the band department at Starkville Academy and the orchestra at FBC Starkville expanded and became respected programs.
Warfield has taught bands in Illinois, Iowa, and Mississippi. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. He received his Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education and his Master of Music degree in Music Education at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Ultimate and absolute truth
Dr. Warfield is a member of several professional organizations including Pi Kappa Lambda, College Music Society, Society for Research in Music Education, National Band Association, National Association for Music Education, Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Band Division, where Duane held the position of president for the 2015-2016 school year.
The School of Fine and Performing Arts at Shorter University offers a variety of majors from music and worship leadership to music education, piano performance, voice performance, and music theatre. In addition to the splendid quality of education received in this School at Shorter University, the students consistently succeed in their fields including music education graduates, who have been blessed with a 100 percent placement rate over the past five years.
The leadership and faculty in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, which employs 20 full-time faculty/staff and seven adjunct faculty, are fully persuaded that ultimate and absolute truth is found in God’s Word and that this truth can be expressed in the arts. They are fully committed to use their positions of leadership at Shorter University to “Transform lives through Jesus Christ.”
Students who are interested in finding out more about the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Shorter University should go to one of the music events, register for the honor band clinic Feb. 24-25, get tickets to the Spring Musical Feb. 16-18, make an appointment to meet one of the faculty members mentioned above, or just check out the website.
You will be glad you did.