Pioneer Press: Class explores how music makes a difference

By Katie Askew,, 11/19/2012

When Bryan Schutt signed up for a beginning voice class at Inver Hills Community College, he had never sung before.

In professor Stanley Rothrock’s class, Schutt learned to turn to music as a way to work through personal issues.
The former National Guard soldier, who served in Iraq, shared his story Thursday, Nov. 15, during one segment of the three-part lecture series, “Interesting Conversations with Interesting People.”
The series culminated in an hour-long performance at the Black Box Theater on the Inver Hills campus titled, “Music: Healing, Powerful and Highly Personal,” and included a performance by Schutt and four other students from Rothrock’s music classes.
Five vocals, two electronically produced compositions and a piano piece were performed as each student told stories about the impact of music on their lives.
“That’s the nature of music,” Rothrock said.
“You have to give up some of yourself in order to make it happen. So I wanted to highlight what some of my students are doing to help them deal with life.”
Schutt, 32, had a lot to deal with. While serving in the Army National Guard in Iraq, he wrote a goodbye letter to his uncle because he was positive he wouldn’t make it home alive.
He even included a disc with two songs to play at his funeral services.
“I’ve been through a lot in Iraq,” Schutt said.
“I just didn’t think I was coming home.”
After his year-long deployment, Schutt experienced anxiety problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. He looked to music for healing.
“It was a challenge for me to get up in front of people and talk,” Schutt said. “Now I can stand up and sing. Music makes it easier to deal with my anxiety issues.”
Schutt, a business major at Inver Hills, then stood up in front of a room full of strangers and sang Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This” — a song with lyrics about a soldier dealing with issues.
The audience gave him a standing ovation.
“I went into teaching because I would be really lost not having music or helping others learn music,” Rothrock said.
“But, hearing Bryan’s story in class was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced as a teacher.”
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