The art of discipline – faculty perspective

Ken Rodgers works with Katie Miller ’12 during a piano lesson.
Ken Rodgers works with Katie Miller ’12 during a piano lesson.


It’s required to maintain an exercise program, to eat in a way that is good for one’s health or to simply have balance between work and rest in our lives.

For the musician, discipline comes in the form of practice. Hesston College student musicians spend hours in practice rooms working on technique and developing repertoire. This work is usually done alone. It is not glamorous. When I practice, a line from a George Matheson hymn often comes to mind: “Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free.” In the day-to-day grind of practice, it can be difficult to see the benefit of working on scales, tone or other technical matters. But the more disciplined the musician, the more freedom there will be in creative expression.

At Hesston College, we work to create an atmosphere that encourages daily practice. It requires discipline to get to a practice room and work on the skills which help maintain and grow a musician’s technique. We also know the reward those hours of practice can produce.

We recently launched a campaign to purchase new pianos for campus. While the pianos we have on campus have served us very well for a number of decades, most are in a rather tired condition and in need of an update. Good instruments on our campus help create an inviting atmosphere that encourages practice. A fine, well maintained piano helps in developing good technique for students in all musical disciplines from piano to voice to instrumental. Simply stated, quality instruments help develop the musical gifts of students.

When the first grand piano arrived on campus in 1949, it marked a shift in the relationship of instrumental music and the Mennonites who founded Hesston College. That same piano, restored in 2009, again provides inspiration for today’s music students because of an investment which will help it serve well into this century. While musical tastes have changed since the first piano arrived on campus, one thing remains the same – a fine instrument inspires growing musicians.

Now, back to practice…

Piano updates as well as renovations to the Northlawn Music building are part of the Delivering the Promise campaign underway to make necessary updates to campus programs. Other departments covered in this fundraising campaign include Aviation, which will receive aircraft and facility updates as well as the purchase of a new plane; Tennis, with the addition of two new courts; and the construction of a new campus entrance. For more information or to make a gift to any part of this campaign, visit the Alumni and Development page at