In May, Caleb Harris, '02, graduated from Eastman School of Music with a master of music degree with a concentration in piano performance. This past summer, he recorded a CD and traveled throughout Asia as pianist with the Eastman Wind Ensemble.
Caleb is one of seven children. He is one of four who chose OBU; the other three are not yet college age. Caleb's brother, Ben, graduated in 2000 and now has a master's degree in music with a concentration in piano accompanying. Ben also went to Vienna, Austria, on a Rotary scholarship. Now, he works as a private instructor in Waco, Texas. Micah will be a senior next year. He is an interdisciplinary major and spent the fall of 2003 at Oxford University. Amy will be a junior next year and is a nursing major. She hopes to work as a missionary nurse.
"Our OBU story began when two of our friends from Borger, Texas, mentioned that they were considering OBU for their undergraduate degree," says Caleb. "One of them was planning to major in music. From their report we decided to travel to Shawnee and find out about OBU for ourselves. When we arrived, we instantly felt at home."
The Harris family grew up on a ranch in Texas. "I began piano lessons at age 10 and music study has been very influential since that time," says Caleb. "My parents taught us to pursue excellence. Our father often says, 'If all I do is teach you to learn and how to think, I will feel successful.' I believe that this has been one of most fundamental aspects of my education." Ben agrees. "Our parents home-schooled us," says Ben, "and they emphasized the practical application of what we were learning. Not only were we drilled in theoretical academics, but we were able to practice life skills by working alongside our dad on the farm and by participating in the everyday chores of running a household of nine people."
"When I think of OBU, I think primarily of fine teachers and great friends I have," says Caleb. "As I was a piano performance major, most of my classes took place in the music department. One of the great OBU opportunities in the music program is the Concerto-Aria concert in which I performed for three years. I also highly value the liberal arts core that I received. I often find that students who did undergraduate degrees in conservatories have not carefully studied a wide range of topics. I think that this sometimes causes a narrow-minded world-view that is unhealthy. OBU is a school where Christianity is valued. I think that the Christian message gives a career in an entertainment-related field a very different twist. Certainly, I must be guided by a desire to honor and glorify God and not myself through music. It is my hope that in playing, and the people I come in contact with will become a unique mission opportunity."
Each of the Harris children defines his or her successes in terms of the Christian message. Ben says, "The Christian message does not just impact my life it defines it. My music, career, and education are only valuable to me as they provide venues and opportunities for me to serve others and live out my love for God." Micah puts it this way: "If Christianity is true, how can it be a mere influence in life? I pray that since God has given me life, He will define my life rather than just influence it. God is the ultimate vision, and whatever occupation or study I may do is valuable to the extent that it contributes to that." Amy says, "My aspiration to minister to others through nursing loses its meaning if I do not personally grow in Christ. I want to glorify God through my life."
Caleb has just begun a doctoral program in piano performance at Eastman School of Music.
by Micah Harris
We are working together.
My dad and I do our best to coordinate
the use of our three useful hands.
His right hand is tanned robust.
Just now, it carries much more
than its rightful load.
His left is a little than an obstruction.
Yes, a painful liability.
I have sowed wheat many times with my father.
We have plowed the earth to fluffy loam
positioned to new seed where it will grow best
considered the likeliness of rain
worked long hours, while conditions were right.
We have patched the ancient creaky machinery
"for the last time," many times.
Today is more difficult.
We wrestle 500 pounds of steel.
Sweat drips. Our throats grunt.
Our backs strain. I am concerned.
His good hand is doing too much.
The other instinctively reaches to help.
The shot of pain hurts us both.
His right hand is determined
to relieve my young back.
I am young,
my back will be needed in the future.
It does help when he lends a hand.
This poem was originally printed in the Scriblerus (2003),
where it received first place in poetry.