By Anna Skudarnova
Junior English Major,
Content Writer, TMU’s Marketing and Communications
CLEVELAND – This past week, the Office of Student Development hosted Fine Arts Week at Truett McConnell University (TMU). The week’s festivities, which included a pottery night, a paint night, and an art competition, culminated in the Swingin’ in the Spring Semi-Formal.
Abbey Thompson, Student Development Coordinator, said the idea sparked at a TMU’s directors meeting, when Valerie Reeves, Director of Marketing and Communications, suggested that TMU’s own jazz band play at a special evening event. While TMU has held formal dances in the past, this is the first year that the semi-formal event took place in the Student Wellness Center (SWC) and current students were able to showcase their musical abilities.
Thompson said, “We thought it would play well into our Fine Arts week and it would help us highlight that Fine Arts can entail music. We then set a meeting with Dr. Tyndall, and he was all on board.”
On Friday, March 26th, students ventured to the front lawn to take pictures with the blooming cherry trees and gurgling fountain. The sunny day provided perfect conditions for smiles, laughs, and photos. The basketball court of the SWC was transformed into an elegant venue for the night by twinkling lights, tables with center pieces, delicate desserts, and a stage for the Bearly Jazz Band.
Bearly Jazz played both upbeat and slow songs throughout the night, and incorporated solos as well as a quartet into the program. By the last song of the first set, “Late Night Llama,” students had crowded onto the dance floor with all their friends to cheer the band on.
Dr. Steven Tyndall, Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at TMU led the band in preparing for the night. When speaking of the jazz band, he said, “They’ve worked very hard for this. They’ve put in over four hours of rehearsals just this week. They are really excited to do it for everybody because they like to show off. I’m very proud of them. This group has come a long way.”
Seth Pauls, member of the Bearly Jazz Band said, “Thanks to the direction for Dr. Steven Tyndall, the Bearly Jazz Band has always been held to a high standard of musical excellence. The jazz band works long and hard to prepare fun, exciting music like “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Living in America” to not only show their musicianship, but more importantly, to show audiences how fun and exciting music can be. The Bearly Jazz Band is by far the most entertaining musical group I have ever been a part of.”
During the intermission, the winners of the Fine Arts competition were announced. First, second, and third place were awarded to Elle Smith, Hunter Miller, and Sarah Wills respectively. Elle Smith painted a colorful piece of a mother with a baby strapped to her back that she titled “Motherhood in Uganda”. She said, “When they called my name, I was surprised and also extremely humbled. I’m happy that I can use the gift the Lord has given me to shed led on the beauty of diversity and to glorify Him.”
Students continued to enjoy the live music and dancing after the intermission, pulling more and more friends onto the dance floor. Rachel Cowen, a junior at TMU said, “You can tell how much effort the staff put into the event. My favorite part was everyone getting out of their comfort zones to have fun on the dance floor.”
Ticket sales from the event were donated to Michaelyn Loper’s ongoing medical bills. Loper, who attended the event in a beautiful aquamarine gown said, “This is all such a God thing. I wasn’t supposed to be here, but the doctors cleared me at the last minute. And the fact that everyone was doing this for me … I didn’t even know. I’m so thankful to see the family of God come together like this and am so thankful for every single person here.”