I am an associate professor of music education in the Alabama School of the Arts at the University of Mobile, a Christian university in Alabama. I’ve taught music students from kindergarten through adults for more than 35 years in public, private and homeschool settings, but I’ve never taught a semester like the one we are having now. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Classes that were face-to-face on campus are now delivered online. We hold class through Zoom, and we video our classes so students who can’t make the live session can view the lesson later.
It’s not how we normally do music classes. It’s a challenging time not only for students, but also for professors.
I have been watching with terror the videos from our classes. I say “uhm” way too much, my pacing is too slow, and I have disconnected sentences! They all make sense in my head, but they don’t come out the right way! So frustrating!
So it was encouraging to me when one of my students gave an anonymous “shout out” in a campus survey about the changes to online delivery of on-campus courses. This student wrote: “Charlotte Hester is my Foundation of Music Theory professor and she prays for us every time we meet for class. It really means a lot that she will stop in the middle of a sentence and say, ‘Hey guys, let’s pray,'”
Honestly, my first response was that I didn’t realize I did that!
If I stop in the middle of a sentence and say, “hey guys, let’s pray,” it’s probably because there is something in the faces and demeanor of my students that says “need,” whether it is need to focus, need to sleep, need to be less anxious, or need to understand.
Prayer should be the place we take our need and our concerns to lay at the feet of Jesus.
I pray because my students need to know that God is as concerned about the daily intricacies of their lives as He is about the world at large. He knows their names. He knows where they are headed, and He knows the concerns they carry with them, and He is all-sufficient for that need.
When I was growing up, I learned a song titled “Yes, God is Able.” The lyrics are:
“Yes, God is able to do whatsoever we ask,
In the Name of His Son, that His will might be done;
And He is able to give whatsoever we need,
If we’ll only believe when we pray.”
My students need to know this, even more than music theory, actually.
I want to be a great teacher, an effective teacher, a teacher whose students exhibit outstanding measurable music achievement. But more than that, I want my students to know the power and presence of a risen Lord.
Maybe that’s why we pray.