“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.” —Martin Luther
The First Stanza: Discovering a Love of Music
Music has been a historically powerful force joining people around the world through ballads and songs. Music continues to unite and shape us through viral TikTok audios, Spotify playlists and sold-out concerts. We all have our favorite playlists, artists and radio stations. All of our lives are directly impacted by music, and some of us, like current college junior Elijah Sikora, dedicate ourselves back to it.
From a young age, Elijah enjoyed learning musical tunes, often coming home from church to sit at the piano and try to recreate a melody he had heard that morning. His parents placed him in piano lessons, and so began his lifelong journey with music. Now, Elijah is at Cornerstone University majoring in music production.
Deciding to study music in college was an easy choice for Elijah for a couple of reasons. He had already spent eight years taking piano lessons (his instrument of choice) and performed through West Michigan Homeschool Fine Arts in both concert and marching band.
Armed with the confidence that music would continue being a large part of his life after high school, Elijah investigated local universities. Ultimately, he decided Cornerstone was the best fit for him and is still glad about his decision.
“Over the past two years I have been at Cornerstone,” Elijah explained, “I have grown as a person. I am a more introverted person, and before I came to Cornerstone, I didn’t have much social experience. Being at Cornerstone has helped me grow in that area.”
Elijah’s campus visits and his dual enrollment experience played a significant role in him choosing Cornerstone, but what really excited him was his interactions with the music department faculty.
“I really appreciate that I got to know the professors in the music department, especially Dr. Desmond Ikegwuonu,” said Elijah. “I really enjoyed how he expressed himself and how he taught.”
The Melody: Elijah’s Experience at Cornerstone
While at Cornerstone, a crucial component of Elijah’s development as a musician has been his music theory and ear training classes.
“Ear training and music theory are crucial in getting to know the music and instrument that you are playing, these are key components of being an excellent musician.”
Additional music classes that Elijah has enjoyed include jazz fundamentals and intro to tech.
Of course, it’s not just major-specific classes that help Cornerstone students prepare to turn their passions into careers. Core classes are carefully selected to add value to students’ education so that they have an array of skills to help them in their vocation. Elijah feels that these core classes have been helpful, and specifically enjoyed his communications class as it provided him with skills to present himself as a musician. Additionally, Elijah feels coursework helped him fine tune his composition skills and develop in music production techniques.
Outside the classroom, Elijah has gotten to perform in various capacities on campus. He has played piano for chapel services and a senior recital concert, as well as participated in a performance lab. During performance labs, students are able to play a piece they have learned and then receive peer feedback on their performances.
“Performance labs are important because they expose you as a musician to how others hear and perceive your performance, and this is a crucial step in becoming a better musician,” Elijah explained.
Looking Forward: A Hopeful Refrain
Elijah is excited for his future as a musician. He especially hopes to build proficiency in music writing. Specifically, he is interested in composing music for film and video game soundtracks. Many films and videogames have inspired Elijah, but the music from the video game Noita has been his biggest inspiration.
If you’re a student looking forward to a future in music, Elijah has some pointers: “The most important thing is to be dedicated to your music craft, to practice proficiency in the instrument or art that you know and to set up a system for time management.”