Training your future musicians

Dear Christian Friend,

I don’t know if I could say it any better than Martin Luther College (MLC) student Noah Ungemach: “The combination of music and God’s Word is a very powerful thing.” Music is indeed a special gift of God, and for millennia God’s people have understood the power of music to sing the gospel straight into the heart.

We deeply appreciate the power of music here at MLC—and the students who are refining their musical gifts here. They’re pursuing excellence every day—and not primarily for their own enjoyment or sense of achievement. They’re dedicating those gifts to something much larger than themselves: to proclaiming salvation in Christ and growing his Church. God-willing, they will be your musicians someday—your music teachers, your worship leaders and planners, your organists and pianists, your band and choir directors.

In the coming months, we want to provide our student musicians something they’ve needed for a long time: more space.

Our Wind Symphony, for example, has rehearsed on the auditorium stage for 20 years because the Music Center band room is not large enough to accommodate the decibel levels produced by a large instrumental ensemble. We’d be risking permanent hearing damage to both director and students in the old band room. And the storage for instruments and music has subsequently been dispersed to seven different spaces around campus—none ideal.

It’s not just the Wind Symphony players who are cramped. We’ve expanded our music program options considerably in the last decades, adding majors in parish music, instrumental music, and vocal music. Many more students study voice, strings, and wind instruments in addition to piano and organ.

Here’s a statistic that may surprise you: Of the 135 graduates in 2022, 128 sang in a choir, played in an instrumental ensemble, or took music lessons for at least one semester. That’s 95 percent. To demonstrate our respect for our students’ gifts and to help them pursue excellence as they develop those gifts for service, we need more space.

Here’s the good news: The solution is already here. An area for rehearsals, recitals, and the refining of our students’ musical gifts has been right in front of our eyes all along—in the lower level of the Chapel of the Christ. In fact, we’ve had plans for this space since we built the chapel 12 years ago—plans that include teaching studios and a computer lab for composition and theory students. The centerpiece is a large recital and rehearsal room. Visualize it: state-of-the-art equipment, acoustical design, and much-needed storage for robes and instruments just steps away.

The first critical step in making this rehearsal space a reality for our students is to construct the necessary infrastructure. The estimated cost is $250,000. Can you help?

Our students are so eager to serve. They’re working hard, always with an eye on their futures—futures where they’re called to direct your church choir, conduct the band at your Lutheran high school, lead the music at your worship services, and teach your children and grandchildren. Will you support them as they seek to serve?

In Christ,
Rich Gurgel
MLC President

Read more about three students’ experiences at MLC and their thoughts about their future music ministries at

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., where we train our future pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and missionaries. Thank you for the recent blessings to the college including the Betty Kohn Fieldhouse, increased donations for financial aid, and encouragement extended to students from people across the synod. Bless Martin Luther College as they carry out a new strategic plan. Lead us, Lord, to continue making our ministerial education schools a priority so that our church body can spread the message of your grace in Jesus Christ. Amen.