mmaillette's blog

Another student voice: Tyler

Hello! My name is Tyler and I play the euphonium in band and sing tenor in choir. There are several reasons I decided to come back to LSM. First, I have another opportunity to improve as a musician. I am also fortunate to study with, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the best low brass players in the world, Stephanie Frye. Secondly, I get to grow in my faith and sing new hymns, not by myself, but with a whole community of believers. Last, but certainly not least, I get to have a grand ole time with new friends and old friends. From singing and playing our instruments, to laughing and playing pranks on each other, we all love each other and make friends for life. 


Photo: Tyler and friends drool over candy during Downtown Decorah Day!


And another look into Jakob Boers' vlog:

Claire Panus shares her story at LSM

One week ago, people from across the country, united as one community for either two weeks or four. The community is so supportive and caring of one another. You are never judged for how well you sing, play, or compose. Everyone builds each other up with inspirations, motivation, and encouragement!

You never have to fear being teased or bullied, and if it were to happen, it would get stopped immediately, because it's unacceptable here at camp.

Claire (2nd from R) with new and old friends

LSM/SOSI is a place you can go, where you are surrounded by people who love music the way you do. Although we may come from all over the place, we have one amazing thing in common, and that is the gift of music.

For me personally, LSM and Luther are a second home. I can escape the outside world, and live and express the stories that are being told within the music, being played or sung.

Even though the week started slowly, there was always the hustle and bustle of students trying to find their way to buildings and rehearsals, yet it all finally came to an ease when the day ended.

I look around, and I see how quickly friendships form, and I see all kinds of groups that differ from each other. There's a wide variety of interests. Though we differ in various ways, we are one, One in Christ. We are all brothers and Sisters in Christ, and we praise His Holy name each and every day with our music.

LSM or SOSI, has definitely changed lives. It creates life long friendships, it creates bonds between people, and music to an incredible connection, one that can't be expressed with words, but emotions.

LSM week one is officially over, and as we move on to the next week, we continue to make music, and be there for one another, and as one community of brothers and sisters in Christ, we are one, One Community in Christ.

-Claire Panus

Photo: Claire Panus (2nd from R) with new and old friends


And now, another vlog from Jakob Boers:

A word from counselor Lauren Fladland

A sweet word from Lauren Fladland:

I still can’t believe that I am finally at LSM! I have been admiring from afar for a long time, since I first heard about the program when I was in high school, however life kept getting in the way of me actually being a part of this wonderful organization. I will admit that I was extremely nervous coming into this summer. As a middle school choir teacher I kept wondering how I was going to be able to relate with high school students! However, all it took was a trip down the Upper Iowa in a tube with the counseling staff and a trip to the Minneapolis airport to pick up some of our students to realize that I was in for an amazing summer.

I have been fascinated by Bob Olsen’s idea of “hygge” since he first talked about it during staff training. Hygge is a Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures: friends, family, and graciousness and we are practicing it here at LSM this summer. I think that after our first dorm hygge that occurred this week that hygge is here to stay at LSM!

During our first hygge many students shared stories, and I think even more importantly, were listened to by not only their peers, but also by adults (counseling staff along with Rev. Jim were also involved). I was so amazed at how open our students were with each other, people that they had only known for less than a week!

This just goes to show that teenagers will talk and open up to each other and to adults, but you need to show them that you are invested in listening. I wish that I could have listened earlier to the pull of the LSM community, however I feel truly blessed to be here and to get to make beautiful music with them in the coming weeks.


"Happy Birthday, America" from Jakob Boers:

Photo Blast!

This weekend's mystery weekend went off without a hitch! The students were so excited to be going to Valleyfair in Minneapolis, MN. And we were excited to provide them the opportunity to spend time with their friends at a water amusement park that is known for its thrills and chills. After taking a group photo on the traditional Jenson-Noble hill, students piled into buses and were on their way by 10:00 a.m. They loopty loo'ed and twirled on roller coasters and slipped and slided at the water park. The weather proved to be perfect and not a single student was left out of the fun. 


A vlog from Jakob Boers during the Mystery Trip to Valley Fair:


A word from our intern, Sarah Geekie!

Sarah Geekie, our audience services intern, shares her story as she enters the LSM community: 

When I arrived in Decorah, IA, I felt like I was a freshman in college again. I went around in circles trying to find Farwell Hall, and I eventually found the way to my dorm room and entered (after a fight with my key), just as I had done four years ago.

After two crazy days at Luther College, with a few panicky moments (What’s that? Where’s that? What am I doing?), I felt pretty settled in and was getting excited for the month ahead. Then, it was time for the students to arrive. It hit me that the kids arriving that Sunday would be feeling the exact same way I had just been feeling. Excited, confused, maybe a little scared? And it was part of my job to make them feel welcome. As an intern, I work primarily “behind the scenes,” but there is time to talk with, hang out, and hopefully make a connection with the students.

When I think back to my early teen years, I can think of a lot of key words. Awkwardness comes to mind, as well as stubbornness and a lot of feeling insecure. (There are positive words too, don’t worry!) Happiness, humor, and friendship were also a big part of my high school years. A big part of my life in high school was music, whether it was marching band, Wind Ensemble, Madrigals, or the school musical. I credit my experience in those groups to be a huge part of who I am today.

Lutheran Summer Music is awesome in many ways. It lets students who already have a talent for music really assess and fine-tune (ha!) those skills. It also gives them a chance to form relationships with students, staff, and faculty. Kids are usually way smarter and more capable than most adults give them credit for. As an “adult” myself, I try to remind myself about that, and remember how it felt to be fourteen or fifteen years old. It doesn’t take much here, because I get to see students showing their musical instincts, integrity, and brightness on a daily basis, both as members of a group and as individuals.

I can’t wait to see how much growth happens in the next few weeks! Happy Week 2! 


And of course, here is another vlog post from Jakob Boers:

Stay tuned tomorrow for a photo blast of everyone at the Mystery Trip! (And also, find out where it was if you haven't already!)

Downtown Decorah Day Photo Blast!

Downtown Decorah Day (when students get to visit local Decorah stores) went off without a hitch! Students got to walk around downtown Decorah, get a small ice cream at the Sugar Bowl, strum a guitar at Kephart's, and stop into the local bookstore at the Dragonfly. Here is a glimpse into some of the happenings that night:











Jakob Boers' 3-minute recap of the day!

A word from soprano Penny Hogan

I’m not much on writing blogs (even though I used to write all the time), but here I go.  This is my third year as a faculty member at LSM.  To say I’m excited to be here is not an exaggeration! This is a great time to make music, get in touch with your spiritual self, work hard - yet relax, make lifelong friends and feel like you belong. 

My regular teaching/performing year is hectic, crazy, full of lots of paper work and sometimes just downright agonizing!  I never feel that way while I am at LSM for the month.  I have such great respect and admiration for my colleagues.  LSM is a well-oiled machine that cannot function without all its parts!  Every person here represents a unique and special function.  We all are an important cog in this machine.    Simply having the opportunity to work with young musicians is one of the reasons why I love being a part of the faculty.  I’m a people person.  We come from all over the United States and gather at LSM to do what we love – how cool is that?!  (I know – I used the word cool).

It probably doesn’t hurt that I also grew up in west central Iowa! But, I have lived in central Texas for several years now.  A great perk is that my husband and I are here together teaching and performing.  I absolutely love coming to Luther’s campus.  So be sure that you enjoy the beauty, the nature, the people and be a sponge while you are here. Just learn from the many people whose paths you will cross. 

I know one thing for certain.  I leave LSM revived, rejuvenated, refreshed and ready for another year.  My only regret is that I haven’t been teaching at LSM for ten years!  But, life has a way of making sense in its own timing.  I’m just thankful that LSM found me.  I’m also thankful that LSM found each one of you.  I’m looking forward to another fun filled month of music making, laughing, creating, talking, listening and being fed spiritually.  My hope is each and every one of you does the same!  Here’s to a great summer, new beginnings and rekindling old acquaintances.

Penny Hogan


Jakob Boers' latest vlog:

Heartland Marimba Festival is here! And a word from Laura Johnson!

The Heartland Marimba Festival will be performing tonight as our Guest Artist recital. Matthew Coley and LSM faculty member Andrew Veit will take the stage and wow the students with their percussion ensemble! Read more about them here.

We're excited to welcome back Laura Johnson, who is returning as our Dean of Students. Here is a message from her about student life at LSM:

LSM and SOSI 2016 have officially begun! The Student Life staff has been working hard to prepare for students’ arrival to Decorah through training exercises, discussions, planning events, meetings, and of course having a little fun time to bond as a team. As the Dean of Students, I have been fortunate enough to assist in the leading of this week’s training and can easily say that this student life staff is one of the best LSM has had. We are so thrilled that we will be meeting all of you and are anxiously awaiting for you to fill the empty dorm rooms in Farwell.

If you are nervous about attending LSM or SOSI, no need to fear! The community is one of the best parts of attending LSM and is why I have continued to return as a part of the student life staff for the past 3 years. My experiences as a counselor and senior counselor at LSM have been life-changing, and I am so excited to be stepping into the role of Dean of Students this summer. As the Dean, I will be making a daily effort to connect with both the students and the counselors and support each person’s day to day experience at LSM. I will be helping coordinate daily recreation activities, all hall events, the ever exciting MYSTERY TRIP (Where will we go?!), Downtown Decorah Day, and many other events to encourage the supportive, positive, and welcoming environment that so many people love about LSM.

I am looking forward to connecting with each and every one of you and sharing experiences through music, worship, and other various events. I cannot wait to get to know you all!


To get an in depth look at the life of students, consider subscribing to Jakob Boers' vlog. Here is his latest video:

A word from Rev. Jim

A message from our Rev. Jim Honig: 

For quite a few years, I participated in LSM vicariously and from a distance. Our younger son was a student at LSM beginning in the summer prior to his 8th grade year, and continued through the summer after his high school graduation. Then for 3 more summers, Tim was on the staff of LSM. It was a very formative experience, leading to the pursuit of a music performance major in college, and eventually a vocation as a music therapist.  

Each year, my wife and I traveled to the Academy for Festival Week. We not only encountered great music, but we witnessed the deep and abiding relationships that were forged and the significant worship life that grounds all of it in God’s invitation to live in God’s love, a love that is shared within the LSM community.

Now, I get to be part of it all! Not vicariously, but in person! I’m so looking forward to all of it: the music, the worship, the forming of community, working with gifted colleagues and students. Most of all, I’m looking forward to how we will center our communal life in the life and death of the Crucified One who has called us to live in his death-defying love. 

Our worship theme this year comes from Thomas Troeger’s great hymn, “O Praise the Gracious Power.” Here’s the first stanza:


Oh, praise the gracious pow’r

That tumbles walls of fear

And gathers in one house of faith

All strangers far and near:

We praise you, Christ!

Your cross has made us one!


As we approach next year’s 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, we’ll use this hymn to help us reflect on the reforming work of the Spirit through the cross of Christ. Indeed, as this year’s LSM kicks off, we trust that the gracious power of the living Christ will form us, shape us, and enliven us in community.  

And in other news, Jakob Boers is actively vlogging his experience at LSM. Here is his first full day at LSM:

Registration Day Recap

It was a bright, sunny day in Decorah for SOSI/LSM 2016 Registration Day! Students unpacked, met their counselors, and dined together as a community. Students are actively scheduling private lessons with their instructors and auditioning for their chair in the band and orchestra. We are delighted to see happy faces on campus and welcome another kind group of students at Luther College for our summer academy.

We look forward to sharing pictures and video links with you as the summer progresses. LSM student Jakob Boers has been proactive in reaching out to the LSM National staff about sharing the daily vlog of his experience this summer. We gladly share with his permission to you as our readers. But let's get to the reason why you're all here: pictures!! Here's our first weekly photo blast!


Check out student Jakob Boers' YouTube vlog channel:



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