The school of music is not like most other colleges in a university. You can walk into practically any other with only your high school education and do fine. You can say, “Turn me into a teacher,” and they can. You can say, “Prepare me for law school,” and they can. You can say, “Make me a nurse,” and they can. But if you are not already a musician of at least some caliber with as many years of private teaching behind you as possible, the school of music will not take you.
My college audition consisted of two tests, a performance, and an interview. One test was four pages of written theory that taxed my knowledge to the limit—keys, chords, terminology, the ability to analyze a page of written music and then writing four part harmony, both notated and not—in other words, writing out music that was playing in my head instead of my hands.
Another was aural theory. What’s that, you ask? “Given a steady beat, notate this rhythm,” at which point the examiner tapped out a complex pattern containing every different kind of note he could fit in, plus dots and triplets. Then followed a melody of which I was only told the first note and had to write the rest from ear alone, including correct rhythm—eight bars worth. Then followed several chord progressions which I had to identify by ear, half a dozen or so.
Then the performance: a major original piece by a recognized composer. Mine was the Chopin Polonnaise in C minor, all 7 pages from memory. But that wasn’t all. I had to perform “on demand” any of the 13 major scales, four octaves in sixteenth notes at an appropriate tempo with the correct fingering, and all three forms of any of the 13 minor keys the same way, with accompanying cadences, using common tone progression. Which were “demanded”? E Flat Major—not too bad—and F Sharp Minor (think, girl, think!).
And the interview? Who is your favorite composer and what do you like about his music? (Translation: do you know anything besides how to play it?) Who have you played? (Are you a one-hit wonder—the pet student of your studio teacher because you were the only one who could learn the first movement of the Pathetique Sonata; otherwise “Fur Elise” was the pinnacle of your student career?)
What’s the point of all this? When James says, “Be not many teachers, my brethren, knowing we shall receive heavier judgment,” (3:1), he wasn’t just blowing smoke through his hat. When God listed the teaching objectives in His Son’s body, he included the perfecting of the saints, ministering, building up the body, attaining unity, becoming knowledgeable, becoming stable, learning to love, and growing up to the same height as Christ (Eph 4:11-16). That’s what he expected teachers in the church to accomplish with their students. If you think those do not apply to you, especially not if you only teach the preschool class, you are sorely mistaken.
The preparation for my college audition began at my first lesson—when I learned the fundamentals of keeping a steady beat, playing one note with one hand and one note with the other, back and forth, back and forth, while my teacher played an accompaniment that made it sound like real music. You are doing the same thing when you teach a two year old, “God made me.” Everything else will lie on that one fundamental principle.
How are your women’s classes? Are you really studying the Word of God or just exchanging opinions? Do you know more today than you did last year? Have you changed your mind about anything? And the most telling of all—do you handle life better than you used to? Has your behavior in certain circumstances completely changed based on the growth of your character, or do you still fight the same old battles against sin, and most of the time, lose?
All Bible teachers should be preparing their students to pass one final audition. If you think those old “read a verse and comment classes” were doing that, maybe you should think twice about your ability—and responsibility—as a teacher of the Word of God. You are not there to fill the time, to check off the fact that this church has today met it’s obligation to “study.”
Teaching the Word is an awesome and frightening privilege. I pray about it before I do it because God will hold me accountable when the time comes for the audition. If my students don’t pass, then neither do I.
Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Here, moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2