Music

PCC graduates and students use their training in remarkable ways. Read about how God is using them in their field of study.

PCC’s music program gives students both technical training and performance experience to skillfully serve God through music. Graduates have performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall in New York City; the Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson, Missouri, and Mittelsächsisches Theater in Freiberg, Germany.

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Florence Fong ’96

Florence Fong

  • M.A. in Music: Pensacola Christian College
  • Music Director, Alma Heights Christian Academy (Pacifica, CA)

“PCC’s Music Education program provides a wide range of opportunities in a school setting and church setting. We are challenged and trained in our specific areas of proficiency. We also learn the basics of all the instruments through brass & percussion methods, woodwind methods, the Jaffé Strings program, and voice classes. Most of all, the teachers are great examples who teach and encourage us to use our God-given talents and abilities for the cause and glory of Jesus Christ.

“The teaching internship at PCC was hands-on, practical, and instilled valuable learning experiences. It gave me a lot of experience in a very well-structured classroom setting. I learned professionalism in the classroom as well as with colleagues. One of my advisory teachers showed me many teaching tools to make music fun and interesting for students from kindergarten through high school. I have been able to use many of her teaching ideas in my music appreciation classes and piano lessons.“

I thought it would be fun to direct elementary programs and teach young students about composers and music theory. God led me to my current school to do just that, and I was able to start a strings program and after-school piano lessons. I couldn’t wait to take all the teaching ideas that I learned from my classes and teachers and utilize them in the classroom.”

Frank Finney ’04

Frank Finney Music

  • Evangelist, Bill Rice Ranch

Since graduating from PCC, Evangelist Frank Finney (’04) has been immersed in ministry. He and his wife, Lindsay (’07), serve with their three children at the Bill Rice Ranch, a revival camp ministry in Murfreesboro, TN.

Through the Ranch, Frank is constantly meeting people of various ages and backgrounds. Frank said, “The Ranch is a unique revival ministry that has given us opportunities to minister with hundreds of churches in summer camps and year-round retreats.”

One area of the Finneys’ work is ministering to churches through music, since both Frank and Lindsay have music degrees from PCC. Looking back, Frank said that “the practical training and consistent example of our instructors has been of great help to our music ministry with churches.”

But Frank doesn’t minister through music alone; as an evangelist, his focus is on preaching. “God used a guest preacher at PCC during my junior year to confirm the call to preach in my life,” Frank said. “While I didn’t graduate from the ministerial class, the chapel messages, Campus Church services, Mission Prayer Band speakers, Bible faculty, and faithful Christian instructors were used by God to prepare me for future ministry.”

During the spring and fall, Frank is scheduled to travel to churches from Florida to Michigan, returning frequently to the Ranch for retreats. During the summer, he will stay at the Ranch to help with summer camps. All of these activities present opportunities to minister to people and share truths from God’s Word.

Frank said, “I want God to continue to open the doors of opportunity and His Holy Spirit’s power to enable me in them.”

Marian Mihas ’96

Marian Mihas Music

When Marian Mihas (’96) was twenty-seven years old, she never expected to learn a new instrument. Although she had an interest in music since she was young, her focus had always been piano and voice. Her discovery of the harp happened unexpectedly, at a time and place perfectly prepared by God.

Mihas said, “It happened accidentally. One day, I went to my sister’s harp lesson and fell in love with its beautiful sound.” After taking lessons herself, she found an insatiable desire to play the harp, using her newfound ability for the Lord.

For years, Mihas had used her abilities in music to touch lives. After majoring in voice on the undergrad level, she pursued a master’s degree in music at PCC. From 1997–2005, she was the soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Warren Civic Chorus. From 2007–2008, she performed vocal recitals in Athens, Greece. Currently, she teaches music to middle school students. Performing in churches and other venues on the harp gave Mihas another outlet to praise the Lord through music.

“The best part about working with music is getting to worship along with the audience as I share my songs,” she said. “It’s such a privilege sharing God’s love through music because as it transforms the audience, it’s changing my heart, too.”

This past April, Mihas debuted her first album, The Lord Reigns: Songs & Hymns to Live By, a collection of vocal and instrumental arrangements.

After writing and arranging her own CD, Mihas recorded in Nashville alongside other talented artists. The experience taught her so much, especially how important it is to rely on the Lord and His faithfulness. “From penning the first songs to holding the finished CD in my hands, the Lord has taught me to learn to wait on Him and trust that His timing is always perfect,” she said.

Looking back, she now sees how the Lord orchestrated all of the details for her album. “One of my first courses in my master’s program at PCC used Finale, a software program for music composition,” she said. “We also had assignments on arranging—another skill that I had never tried before. I remember wondering if I would ever need any of this in the future. The lessons from that class have proven to be some of the most valuable ones for me as a songwriter and arranger.”

From her debut performance in a local church to newspaper write-ups promoting her album, interest in her music continues to grow. “I can easily trace the Lord’s hand through every step of the way,” said Mihas. “Now, I’m in the exciting stage of writing songs for my next album. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store!”

Steve and Jennifer Hall ’99

Steve and Jennifer Hall

  • Steve: Music Director and Assistant Pastor, Valley Baptist Church
    (Stuarts Draft, VA)
  • Steve and Jennifer: Music Writing and Arranging, Bible Truth Music
    (Newport News, VA)

“Steve says, “We have had the privilege of working in many areas of music publishing with Bible Truth Music, such as writing and arranging choral music and children’s music, leading choir conferences in churches all over the country, as well as doing graphic design for CDs and books. We have also been able to produce a number of music recordings and have written and arranged two musical cantatas through BTM. One is called ‘The Miracle I’ve Seen,’ an Easter musical, and the other is called ‘This Is My America,’ a patriotic musical.

“Serving the Lord in the area of music is a wonderful privilege! It is very rewarding to work on a song with the church choir and use it to minister to the congregation on Sundays. It is a blessing to see others be able to use their God-given talents to serve the Lord in music, especially children. It has also been amazing to see the Lord open the doors of opportunity for us to be able to accomplish some of our musical dreams.

“I can so clearly look back now and see how God led me to PCC and how He gave me the tools there that I would need in my future ministry. I was privileged to have some of the finest music instructors and learned many things that have been invaluable to me in the music ministry. Some specific tools I gained at PCC are principles of good vocal technique, choral training and conducting, and striving for excellence in every area. I appreciate the emphasis that was placed by the instructors on music as a ministry, not performance.”

Jennifer says, “Many of the classes I took at PCC, such as Choral Writing and Arranging, have been invaluable to me, giving me the foundation for the work I now do. The professors were excellent, giving such attention to detail and helping me to develop musical ideas. During my time at PCC, of course I did not know what my future held, but God led in many ways, preparing me for the future ministry and work we would do. My time at PCC is a treasured memory to me, and I am very grateful for the solid musical foundation I received during my years as a student there. Excellence was emphasized in every area.”

Goncalves

Pitagoras & Cleusía Gonçalves

Dr. Pitagoras Gonçalves met his wife Cleusía during choir practice at the university they attended in Brazil. When they discovered they both knew the Lord and both loved music, brief conversations turned into long lunches after practice. Six years after they met, they said, “I do,” never dreaming all that the Lord had in store for them over their next twenty years of marriage.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” said Dr. Pitagoras Gonçalves. “My oldest memories have music in them.” When he was four years old, he gave his first public piano recital, playing a Brazilian children’s song in his teacher’s studio.

His love for piano continued to grow into what he called an “emotional experience,” something that defined who he would be as an adult and what he would do with his life. “God can show us His will through emotional experiences,” he said, “but there is a big difference between a dream and an illusion.”

Pitagoras Goncalves

In his teaching, Pitagoras reminds students that accomplishing a dream means working diligently and practicing for many hours, often focusing on all of the small details until the musical score is performed perfectly. “If a student wants to quit after failing a couple of tests or performances, then becoming a professional musician or music teacher was most likely just an illusion.”

For Dr. Cleusía Gonçalves, attention to detail and diligence in practice were keys that unlocked her own musical journey. At fifteen, she fell in love with choral music and conducting after accompanying her church choir; but after her father passed away in a tragic accident, she began to think her dream of studying music would never come true.

“What has impressed me the most through my life and through hard times has been God’s sovereignty—above all. He knows us and deals with our struggles and weaknesses and each aspect of our lives,” she said. “Because of that, I have learned to persist despite difficulties, knowing that the Lord is taking care of everything, and everything will work together for our good.”

God continued to take care of everything, guiding them to talk to PCC Artists-in-Residence Dr. and Mrs. Alberto Jaffé about pursuing master’s degrees. “We knew God was leading us to come to the U.S. for further training and the experience of studying abroad,” said Cleusía. “The Lord worked out the move and transition, and in 1999, we came to PCC for a master’s degree in music: Pitagoras in piano, studying with Mrs. Jaffé, and I in voice, studying with Artist-in-Residence Dr. Ann Gibbs.”

After completing their master’s degrees, they planned to pursue doctorates immediately; but the Lord worked in their hearts, and instead of earning another degree, they decided to stay at PCC to teach music.

“It is very rewarding to teach piano and organ private lessons because I get to know my students more personally,” said Pitagoras. “I love teaching music, and my goal is to make musical complexity more accessible and easier to learn for all of my students.”

Cleusia Goncalves

While he works one-on-one with students, his wife enjoys conducting performing groups and teaching conducting classes. “It is a great joy for me to see how the students change through the course of their four years at PCC,” she said. “My desire is to inspire them to appreciate music and truly praise the Lord through it. When I see this happening, I think I am doing what I was called to do, and it makes me happy.”

As they continued to follow the Lord’s leading, they both felt impressed to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree. “It was always my desire to complete my academic career with a D.M.A. in music,” said Cleusía. “Being so involved at PCC with many responsibilities and opportunities, and with children, I thought it would be hard to accomplish or nearly impossible. I am so glad and thankful that the Lord allowed us to complete it.”

After earning their degrees, the Gonçalves continue to see the Lord open doors for them. Pitagoras has recently received a U.S. patent for the first software in the world capable of evaluating expressiveness while a student practices piano. The program is something he has been inventing and developing for years.

“That first dream of playing the piano when I was four sparked my curiosity, leading me to pursue music a little further, which led me to study it more, which daily leads me to want to share it by teaching or performing it,” he said. “I am glad I have the opportunity along with my wife to share the music the Lord allowed us to develop here at PCC.”

Rachel (Scheller) McElroy ’04

Rachel (Scheller) McElroy

  • M.S. in Music Education: Pensacola Christian College
  • Director for Home School Music Co-op Strings Program, Private Music Instructor, Certified Kindermusik Teacher

“I love working with students who are developing their intermediate skills. There is such an opportunity to introduce new concepts and techniques and to get the students really excited about music. Feedback from parents and students always thrills me: ‘You started him on his musical career!’ ‘I would have given up the violin if it hadn’t been for you.’ ‘I hope I can play like you someday!’

“My lessons and classes at PCC gave me valuable technical skills but also provided firsthand observations of teachers on the job. I have found that many of my teaching techniques and styles copy those from my instructors there at PCC. I feel like I gained not just teaching skills but a love and enjoyment for music.”

Brian Weer ’01

Brian Weer

  • M.S. in Music Education: Pensacola Christian College
  • Associate Pastor of Music and Worship, Salem Baptist Church (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • Director of Music, Salem Baptist Christian School (Winston-Salem, NC)

“PCC helped me grow in music by instilling a strong musical/theoretical background with an emphasis on ministry. I plan and lead the worship services at our church and teach the following courses at the school: high school through beginner bands; choirs; middle and high school handbells; and I lead high school chapel music.”

Brian’s favorite part about working as a musician is “the thrill of leading a congregation in worship before the Lord and knowing that people can be hurting on the inside, and being personally used by God to bring them to Him in worship.”

Joshua Prenevost ’06

Steve and Jennifer Hall

  • M.S. in Music Education: Pensacola Christian College
  • Assistant Pastor and Music Director, Cornerstone Baptist Church (Smyrna, TN)

“I feel that the education I received at PCC was well rounded and has helped provide me with the creativity, flexibility, and vision to adapt to the needs of a growing church. I left PCC feeling confident and prepared for wherever the Lord would lead me.

“I am responsible for our church’s music program, church visitation, and retirement home ministry. Some of my weekly responsibilities include editing sermons for posting online, handling benevolence requests, leading congregational singing, directing the adult and children’s choir, managing the church website, and helping organize church activities. My wife (Joy, ’02 Elementary Education grad) and I work together on almost everything as an inseparable team. I love being in a position where I can influence, help, and witness to people for God’s glory on a full time basis.”

Yoshio Nakamura ’96

Yoshio Nakamura

  • M.S. in Secondary Education: Pensacola Christian College
  • Band Director and Music Teacher, Raleigh Christian Academy (Raleigh, NC)
  • Orchestra Director, Beacon Baptist Church (Raleigh, NC)
  • Awards: His high school band has won first place in the North Carolina Association of Christian Schools fine arts competition for the past three years.

“I am grateful that I was taught how to play all of the instruments in the various methods classes [at PCC]. I also use what I learned in my arranging classes on a weekly basis as I arrange music for my band and orchestra on Finale.

“My favorite part of my job is getting to watch my students grow and develop their instrumental abilities and then use those abilities in their local church.”

Learn More

Check out PCC’s performing arts department for majors in music with vocal, keyboard, and instrumental emphases.