LSM Blog

Where are our students? We can't wait to meet everyone!

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first students on Registration Day Sunday. Student life has met to train and plan special activities for the students, our academy director and operations manager continually work to create a seamless experience for everyone on campus, and the worship team is actively making sure our hymnals are neatly placed in a row. We're ready! Now we just need everyone to get here safely so the music-making can begin. 

We are excited about our newest program, Sounds of Summer Institute, a 2-week program that gives students musical excellence in a supportive community but in a shortened experience. Not only will there be musicianship and workshops as part of their curriculum, but it means having an entire extra night of concerts for the LSM/SOSI community! 

Please check out our calendar of events! We encourage you to attend any and all of the concerts throughout the summer. They are free of charge and open to the public. Click here for our entire calendar. We will update as recitals are finalized. 

We raise a toast to another summer of fun, faith, and music! 

LSM 2015 has officially closed

July 19, 2015

Festival week has officially come to a close. Executive Director Bob Olsen removed his lanyard in a symbolic notion to send the 2015 LSM Community home. Friends have said their goodbyes for the year and faculty sent them on their way not only with more knowledge of their instrument, but more wisdom in their faith and hearts. As Dean of Students Mark Tegtmeier said, "Students meet their best friends for life here." We as a staff observe this to be true year after year. Returning students and new students find a bond at LSM that few academies and summer programs offer and to be part of that in any capacity is a blessing. 

Thank you to all parents, donors, and congregations for your support (in every sense) for students attending LSM this year. Without all your help, the quality of the students that arrived in late June just would not have been the same. We appreciate and are grateful for all of the musical gifts that were shared during our 4 weeks together and we are certain none of that would have been possible without help from each student's community. Thank you.

Please join us next year at LSM. We will be at Luther College from June 26 - July 24. Applications will be ready on the website late August.

A note to parents and others who weren't able to join us in Decorah: We have had the priviledge of having professional photographers present during a handful of the Festival Week concert nights. In the past, photos have been able to be posted more regularly on the blog. When we receive photos from our photographers, we will be sure to share as many as possible on our blog and also on Flickr. An announcement via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will be made in the very near future! 


God is here, indeed!

Pastor Michael Costello has been exploring the worship theme "God is here" with our growing LSM community. As we enter into the final week at LSM and celebrate in festival concerts, we see so clearly the ways in which God truly is present in all of us. The three values of LSM, musical excellence, nurturing community, and Lutheran faith, have been expressed thoroughly in thought and deed at Luther campus.

God is here in the vibrant, playful sounds of 76 Trombones at Thursday night's band concert and in the practice rooms where students' repetoire become more and more refined. God is here in private lessons where devoted faculty challenge students to grow as musicians and He is here in the recital halls as students and faculty share their beautiful musical gifts. God is here at morning announcements while we sing Luther's Morning Prayer, which has quickly begun to tug at the heartstrings of our community.

God is here in the laughter of the students at the cafeteria as they share in inside jokes over soft serve ice cream cones. God is here before and after concerts, where friends inspire and support each other. God is here among the friendships that continue to grow between faculty and staff; the collaboration of faculty chamber ensembles flourish. God is in the hugs and thank yous of students who express gratitude to their parents for getting them to LSM this year.

God is here in our prayers, either spoken aloud as a community or kept quietly within our hearts. God is in the incredible power of the organ music that has been brought to us by our talented faculty and staff. God is here in the sweet voices of the student cantors who lead us during evening prayer; their leadership binds our community into silence and reflection. God is here at dorm devotions, where Pastor Costello, student life staff, and students gather to dive deeper into their faith journey.

Pastor Costello's closing remarks during our last morning announcements on Thursday reminded us that God is in each and every one of us. This is not only witnessed in the musical capabilities of our students but also through the kindness, compassion, and respect given to one another. This year's group of students have been nothing short of incredible individuals. They are joyful, studious, friendly, poised, mature, witty, charismatic, sensitive, and sincere. We are so blessed and incredibly proud of the growth we have been priviledged to witness in each and every student, both spiritually and musically.

God is truly here.


Student to Intern by Jason Laine

LSM Journal of “Student to Intern” by Jason Laine 

Hey Folks! My name is Jason Laine, and I am a proud member of LSM once more. I came a long way from being a student four times, and now serving as an intern. 

I met my other fellow interns and noticed how confident, funny, and how much joy we had for another. We made an amazing group. One evening a couple of us were introduced to online Karaoke Battles. We all sang—okay. We enjoyed that until some of us lost our “talented” voices. Recently, the lady interns, Katrina and Emily, thought it would be a fun idea to shape up mine, Colin, and Nathan’s hairstyle. At least I kept my hair as they made it.  

When we first met our intern director Bob Olsen in person, he was a lot brighter and more confident than we expected. He too made our jobs fun, along with many faculty members we work for. Some are new, and some have worked here for a very long time. I think LSM would be a little different without him; in fact, LSM would not have been amazing without any of the faculty members. 

Our mystery trip was amazing. We went to The Music Man and to be honest, I think the musical is better than the movie. The cast did an outstanding job. Later we went to see the fireworks in Harmony, MN. I personally thought it added the “holiday spirit” in our trip. I brought face paint along in our beloved colors; red, white, and blue. Many of the students and interns enjoyed the designs. The fireworks were incredible. 

We also had a talent show just this weekend, and I got to say that it went pretty wild. Shortly after that, we had a dance party at Marty’s. We had so much fun dancing, especially on the stage. Others relaxed in seats, maybe worn out from the dance. We were pretty sore the next morning, but the dance was worth it. 

The morning and evening worship are always soothing in the soul. It’s the services that will never get old. The music really brightens your day and night.  

Throughout the month, we’ve practiced long and hard for our big events, and now those big events are happening fast, and I can’t wait for them to come. In my case, I have two Large Ensembles and one Small Ensemble coming up: Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, and  Concert Orchestra. Wish me luck!

To see Jason Laine and the other students at the upcoming festival performances, head to our calendar of events!

"Coming Home" by Cathie Schauer

For many of the faculty and staff who participate in LSM it is  their eighth, tenth, eighteenth, and in some cases nineteenth LSM.  I belong to the nineteen year club.  Many friends and family members ask me why I keep doing what I do.  The obvious answer is that it is my year-round job.  What they really want to know is what it is that makes a Minnesotan give up five plus weeks of their summer (and cabin time) to “…go to camp…”  I do not think of it in that way.  I am not saying it is not hard at times.  I struggle with missed time spent with family and friends and the many summer festivals that dot the Minnesota landscape.  The truth is that I can’t imagine a summer without LSM. 

One of the great messages that Luther College lives out is welcome home.  The faculty, staff, and students are told welcome home at the opening assembly.  Luther College means this.  We are welcomed at Luther and in the broader community of Decorah, Iowa.

I feel this distinctly on many levels.  This is my eleventh LSM on the campus of Luther College.  I have experienced many collegiate events on campus over an eight year span for two nieces and one nephew.  My great-great grandparents settled in this area in between 1849 and 1851.  I indeed feel like I am coming home when entering the limestone bluff country that surrounds this area.

This is in many respects a mystical place.  LSM is a mystical living and breathing “thing”.  It embraces you and pulls you in from Luther’s Morning Prayer to the many faculty and student recitals.  You return to familiar buildings on campus and familiar faces.  You return to familiar music, hymns, and evening prayer.  You are indeed coming home.

Today is brought to you by Kait Ahlschwede

July 14, 2015

Today's blog post is brought to you by the charming, bubbly, and senior Kait Ahlschwede. 

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about what to write in this blog post. With this being the fifth and final summer here at LSM for me, there have just been so many things that have come to mind. All of the great memories, the outstanding musical experiences, the amazing people. I tried to narrow it down to just one thing or even one word. The only thing that really seemed appropriate to say after all of these amazing summers was “thank you.” 

Every summer we are reminded of the three things that LSM strives to provide each and every student that spends their summer here. The first of those three is musical excellence. From the music we sing together in worship services to the solo recital pieces we work so hard to prepare, every musical moment here is special and unique. Being able to walk into a rehearsal with 5o some other students that you don’t know at the beginning of the month and walk out four weeks later having learned an entire concert worth of music together is an amazing thing. The faculty that we get to spend every day learning from are honestly the coolest and most talented group of musicians anyone could ever ask for. Thank you for all of the recitals, for the practice tips of the day, for trusting us with challenging  repertoire. Thank you for opening our eyes to all kinds of music and for teaching us how to be better musicians. 

The second is nurturing community. Tonight my cluster sat around and painted nails together. We spent time sharing stories from home, talking through our struggles, and supporting each other. I’m amazed every summer at how a group of some of the best high school musicians from all around the country can come together and support each other. Having spent time at several other summer music camps, I can tell you that that’s not something that happens anywhere else. The student life staff provides such a safe and accepting space here and it’s amazing to see how we’re all able to support and love each other. Thank you for encouraging us to build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Thank you for providing a space for us to share our stories and for building a community where we can trust each other with what we share. 

The third and final thing is Lutheran faith. Worship is such a big aspect here at LSM, but not everyone comes from the same faith background as others. We begin and end every day in prayer and everyone is encouraged to worship in the way that is most comfortable for them. The chaplain and the rest of the worship team are always there to answer questions and talk about your faith with you. It’s not everywhere that you can find a group of high school kids sitting around on a Saturday afternoon talking about their faith and how God has worked in their lives. By setting God as the most important part of everything we do here we create a place where love is infinite, forgiveness resets the standard, and people see themselves through His sacrifice.  Thank you for teaching us how to cantor and how to lead worship. Thank you for accepting us wherever we are in our faith journey and for being there to help explain the things we don’t understand. Thank you for helping us honor God with our talents. 

So, in the end, thank you. Thank you to the faculty members who have taught me more than I could ever imagine and who have changed my life through meaningful conversations and words of wisdom. Thank you to all of the counselors and the dean for being my friend and helping me out when I lock myself out of my dorm. Thank you to all of the wonderful friends that I’ve made who support and encourage me and who let me do the same for them. There will always be a really special and really big place in my heart for the life-changing place we call Lutheran Summer Music. Thank you for making this my second home. Until we meet again! 


We will welcome you back with open arms, Kait! Thank YOU for your heart-felt sentiments. What a blessing!

Photo Blast Monday: A fun, social weekend!

July 13, 2015

The past weekend was filled with fun! Students participated in a college fair for an afternoon and were able to attend a couple of workshops of their choosing. They put on a talent show among their peers and actively supported each other no matter the act. The evening closed with a steady beat at Marty's, the campus dance floor. The uninhibited openness of the students dancing together inspired counselors and staff enough for them to join during the Macarena and Cotton Eye Joe. Without further ado, here is your Monday photo blast!







TOBIN TAKEOVER 2015: A Family Portrait

July 10, 2015

Today's post is brought to you by Grace, Colin, and Erika Tobin, three siblings who have attended LSM for a near 10 years collectively. Without further ado, here is their story:

Hey there! My name's Grace Tobin and this is my second year at LSM. I am the primary bassoonist in both band and orchestra, with this summer starting up my fourth year of playing. I'm an incoming junior at Capital High School in Olympia, WA, and LSM is one of favorite organizations to be a part of.

This year I really focused on my practicing and improving my work ethic. I've made it into the practice room almost every day, tackling the tricky passages in the music. Some of the hard spots are still a little shaky, but a good product takes time. Outside of the practice room I've had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends, going to the pool, having jam sessions on recorder, ukulele, and other instruments in my cluster, and of course trying and ultimately failing to pet the squirrels. All in all I have thoroughly enjoyed this year and can't wait for next year. See ya later folks!


Hi! My name is Colin and I'm the orchestra intern this year! I attended LSM as a student from 2010-2013 so being an intern has been a really cool new way to experience LSM. Interns duties mainly consist of setting up for different rehearsals and/or events while we play in our respective ensembles. It is quite interesting to work more with the faculty and learn what goes on behind the scenes. This summer has also been special because my two sisters are also here with me. Grace is a student and Erika is a counselor. While we are pretty busy, it's nice to get to see each other everyday before we go to our different schools in the fall. Hope to see you at Festival week!


As a counselor, LSM is amazing in so many ways. I love witnessing the growth that takes place over the years in our returning students and see them mature into amazing people and musicians! I also love having both of my siblings here! Even though we only see each other briefly throughout the day, it's fun to have similar experiences and have that eternal support system here with us.

As an LSM student back in the day and now as a counselor it's an awfully (and I really do mean full of awe!) amazing experience and privilege to be able to help create the safe spaces and intentional community that (isn't necessarily drama or stress free but) is supportive and encouraging! Because of this kind of community our students like my sister can grow and thrive like my brother and I once did as LSM students.

I think the most powerful aspect of LSM this year for me has been the Dorm Devotions which we do in our clusters/counseling groups each week. Dorm Devos are a time for us all to step back from music, from activities, and from everything else, to  reflect on our lives both here at LSM and at home. It's a time for us to grow deeper in our connections to our friends here than we can at lunch or in band. For me getting to witness those bonds being created is such a powerful and special time that enhances all the other amazing LSM moments. Those moments include eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner with our students, playing basketball or capture the flag, creating music, and laughing hard over jokes no one else in the whole world would ever understand. LSM is a mixture of tears, laughter, fulfillment, stress, and love and I don't know where else I'd get that during the summer. I'm so glad I get to share these moments with my siblings and my friends here!

Grace and peace to you,


Highlights of the Mystery Weekend from Joseph Muhle

July 8, 2015: Today's blog post highlights all the fun events of the mystery trip. The students were THRILLED to be going to a theatrical production. Having made life-lasting friendships, this trip was nothing short of special for everyone. 

"Last Saturday, on the 4th of July, our LSM community got up early to attend a flag raising ceremony to celebrate the holiday. After a short breakfast, we loaded up on some buses.  After a 3 hour drive, we finally arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  We unloaded and ate a quick lunch at Gold Medal Park which is conveniently placed beside the Guthrie Theater, our next destination.  We all waited and enjoyed the different attractions in the Guthrie, such as the Yellow Room and the Sky Bridge, before going to the theater and waiting for our production, ‘The Music Man’, to start. The show was absolutely wonderful and we got a chance to talk to the cast in a Q and A session. Shortly after the close of the show, we loaded up on the bus once again.  We stopped in Rochester for dinner and once satiated, left for Harmony, Iowa to watch the fireworks and play a couple games of ultimate Frisbee.  We got back to Luther College close to 10:30 where we got off the bus a final time and groggily went up to our dorms and enjoyed a great night’s sleep."

Thank you Joseph!


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