The Rapidian

In Our Own Lives

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How the power of music has affected the lives of the exectutive staff at this nonprofit organization
Underwriting support from:

Believe In The Power Of Music

Everything we do, we do because we know that music changes lives.

/John Schuitema

/Mark Jackson

At the Vocal Music Workshop, we're all about changing people's lives through the power of music.  We wanted to take a minute to reflect on the power of music in our own lives.  The following are thoughts on how music has affected the lives of the VMW’s Music and Executive Directors.


Mark Jackson, VMW Music Director:  In My Own Life…


Before I even knew anything about jazz or classical, music kept me off the streets and out of trouble.  I spent many after school hours alone in my church sanctuary playing the organ, even in the freezing cold when the heat was not turned on in the church.

Because of music, I have been to Europe 6 times, and soon to go again.  I saw close to 30 U.S. cities that I probably would not have been to except for my musical activities.  I went to Disney World, Mardi Gras, and all the big cities in the U.S. because of music. 

I was introduced to foreign languages through music, most useful and important to me was the Latin language.  I learned to stand up tall in front of a group of people through singing in choir.  And all of my closest friends, even to this day at 44 years old, have come to me through our participation in musical activities.

Music changes lives.  It changed my life.  I see it changing people's lives everyday.  And it's not just music; it's the arts in general.  They compliment, augment, and deepen learning that happens in core classes.  The arts bring communities together.  English, math and science don't do that in the same way.  The arts give some kids a reason to go to school and stay out of trouble.  Mostly, the arts develop human creativity and innovation.  Arts education is necessary, absolutely necessary for us to have a thriving, innovative society.

When I think about what the arts have done to change my life, and I see how art is changing peoples lives today in the same way, I wonder how we can bring the importance of arts education back into the conscious mind of the community.  It's kind of a no-brainer.  Maybe that's the problem.  We are not using our brains on this one.



Jayne Schuitema, VMW Executive Director:  The Music of My Life…

Mark wrote in his blog yesterday about what music has done in his life.  It was a powerful testimony to how it has molded and shaped his life.  This caused me to reflect today on how music has molded and shaped my life…that of a non-musician.

I was not born with any innate musical talent.  As a child I took piano lessons, played the clarinet in middle school and sang in my high school choir.  In all of these pursuits I was just mediocre.  However, I was always captivated by the magic that musicians wrought.  So, as a child I loved going to hear the symphony orchestra, watching Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, and listening to most any type of music.  Our house was filled with the strains of classical music, jazz, the blues and of course the Beatles.  As a child I was taken to see Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Marni Nixon.  I longed to be a part of such creative pursuits.

As a young adult searching to find my niche in the creative world I dabbled in several areas.  In my 20’s I started a cooking school…food became my medium.  I think because I like the process of creating. 

It wasn’t until my oldest child (who is musical) was playing in an orchestra and singing in a choir that I began my career in the music business.  I discovered that to be a part of the magic that is music I didn’t need to be a musician.  A choir or an orchestra or a band can’t do it alone.  They must have producers, directors, stage managers and creative directors.  I found my niche and it satisfies two of my greatest passions; nurturing young people and participating in music making.   

I believe that my early and repeated exposure to music helped to form my ability to think creatively, solve problems, and develop a can do perspective. I am grateful that for the past 20 years I have had the privilege to work everyday in the magical world of music making.


The VMW knows firsthand how much power music wields in our lives.  We are committed to providing musical education opportunities to anyone who wants them.  We do this because we know without a doubt that music changes lives.  Visit to find out more about out organization, including how to volunteer or invest with us.  Thanks!

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