The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 7, 2012

Heavenly harmony: Teacher blends music, faith at Johnstown Christian

Ruth Rice

— Kristen Lloyd of Windber has always felt drawn to music.

Lloyd is in her 20th year of teaching general, choral and handbell music to students from preschool to 12th grade at Johnstown Christian School.  

She also teaches high school music theory and 10th-grade Bible and directs the middle school and high school choirs.

“General music is required from preschool to eighth grade, then the choirs are elective,” Lloyd said. “I see music as an asset to their lives, a social interaction.”

One reason students want to be a part of the choir is the  five-day spring tour she organizes for members in grades 11 and 12 each spring.

“We go to churches and other Christian schools,” Lloyd said.

“Last year we went to Virginia and Delaware. I value the length of time we get to grow.

“It’s not just one shot. They get to polish it. I see it as an opportunity to apply the message of the music to their lives.

“It’s a spiritual and musical retreat. They sing from the heart, and God speaks through the words.”

The students not only sing about the Christian life while performing on stage, but also get the opportunity to live it while staying at their host family’s home.

“Students look for the opportunity to encourage and ask to pray for their host families,” Lloyd said. “It’s not just on stage, and it gets them communicating.”

“I’ve done a study on worship, and it’s a lifestyle,” Lloyd said. “My favorite part is knowing God has molded me for blending music.”

A native of Corry, Erie County, Lloyd has taught at Johnstown Christian School since she graduated from Houghton College in southwestern New York with a bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in vocal music and piano and from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., with a master’s degree in music education.  

Lloyd also holds teaching certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and from the Association of Christian Schools International.  

She is a member of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association and the Somerset County Choral Directors Association.

Lloyd’s mother, a piano teacher, taught her to play at age 5 and has been her inspiration.

“She sees a huge calling to develop the musical talents of kids, how they can use their gifts in the church,” Lloyd said.

“Some have gone into music, and some play at their church.

“Their musical talents go with them all their lives.”

Lloyd played piano at church and sang for district chorus in high school. She also played the flute.

Once she reached college, she had to choose between choral or instrumental music.

“I loved the blend of words with music,” Lloyd said. “Choral music allows me to be able to speak on a different level.”

The mix of music and faith has given Lloyd powerful times of conviction and encouragement.

When she graduated from college, Lloyd found out about an opening for a music teacher at Johnstown Christian School by knowing the right person.

Her grandmother’s sister, whose pastor’s family had children at the school, told the family about the position.

Up until that point, Lloyd’s idea of a dream job had been a big music program at a big high school with a big auditorium for performances, and not necessarily Christian education.

“It wasn’t until I got here (that) I realized I was prepared for this place,” Lloyd said. “I realized how much I would enjoy connecting with the kids on a spiritual level, not something I would have been able to do at another school.”

Lloyd promised God she would come to Johnstown for one year to give the job a try.

“Every year, I ask him, ‘Where do you want me?’ ” she said.

“You have to go through the door God opens for you.”

Lloyd leads the student worship teams for the high school chapel once a week at Johnstown Christian and serves as music director for school musicals.

She believes music is a tool that teaches about God’s trust.

“It’s a vehicle we all get in and talk about the truth in God’s word,” Lloyd said. “I teach about the fun of music, too. We talk about notes, dynamics and how to read music.”

The high standard of excellence in academics at Johnstown Christian School extends to music, and Lloyd admits it has been a challenge to keep her classes fresh.

That excellence is how she sees her students reaching

their potential as followers of Christ.

Lloyd and the dedicated staff at Johnstown Christian School are committed to Christian education and see it as a ministry.

For her role as choral director and music teacher at Johnstown Christian School, Lloyd received the education award at the 2005 YWCA Tribute to Women Awards.

She works part time in music ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Richland‚ÄąTownship, where she is the director of the adult choir and vocal coach for the praise teams.

“I just took the job recently,” she said. “It takes up two to three nights a week and a service twice a month.”

Lloyd is a member of Berkey Church of the Brethren in Windber, where she has been in music ministry for 19 years.

She directs the adult and handbell choirs, is a youth adviser and works with music for vacation Bible school.

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