Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Worship recognized

Worship Leader Magazine recognized the Liberty University Center for Music and Worship as one of the top worship programs in the country in their October issue.

The magazine listed Liberty’s program among the “Best of the Best in Education” for the third year in a row in its annual “Best of the Best” issue. Liberty also earned the Reader’s Choice award for the No. 1 worship program in higher education for the second-consecutive year.

Praise —  Students work to further their abilities. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Praise — Students work to further their abilities. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

“The best of the best in education means that you have the best education program or influence,” Vernon Whaley, dean of Liberty University’s School of Music, said.

Whaley said he was especially satisfied with appearing on the Readers Choice awards because those awards are voted by subscribers of the magazine.

“Now, the reason this is so impressive to us is that this is what the readers think,” Whaley said. “The Best of the Best is what the editors think, this is what the readers have voted on. Most of these guys have either gone through our program or are familiar with it.”

According to Whaley, while the Center for Music and Worship has been pleased with their program, they did not realize how influential it was until they started getting these kinds of recognitions.

“We knew that we were on to something, and we designed the programs to be market-driven so our students could get jobs,” Whaley said. “We have been very intentional in designing programs that would plug into the evangelical community immediately. Our gratification is that now the industry is beginning to recognize it as well.”

Whaley said he feels that Liberty’s program stands out for being market-driven, for being practical and for bringing in professional practitioners to teach.

“We shape the curriculum around these guys that have given their lives to whatever profession they work in,” Whaley said. “We usually have between 25 and 30 guests come every year, so it’s a big deal. We know that when (the students) get done with the program here that they can use what they’ve learned pretty quickly.”

Whaley said he has been involved with the Center for Worship and Music since 2005. At that time, there were only 89 students in the program. The past few years, the undergraduate levels of the program have averages around 600 while the master’s degree program averages about 400, according to Whaley.

“We’ve asked the Lord to allow our students to impact hundreds of thousands of churches across the country over the next decade,” Whaley said. “We’ve already got a thousand if you count our graduate program.”

Whaley said his goal is to have a thousand undergraduate students by 2015.

“It’s just nice knowing that the teachers are the best at what they do,” Taylor Sprouse, sophomore worship major, said. “My hope is that Liberty University alumni leave a big impact on America through some real-world accomplishments.”

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