By Daniel Houston
Although Baylor’s campus may appear quiet in the summer, its concert halls are ringing with the sonorous voices of the organ.
Dr. Joyce Jones, Baylor’s professor of music and organist-in-residence for forty-three years, just completed teaching her final organ camps with the university before she retires in August. The camps — one for students ages thirteen-to-eighteen and one for adults — have equipped organ students for music ministry or recreational enjoyment for eighteen years.
“Many of the people who’ve come, have come back repeatedly because it’s a good experience,” Jones said. “Baylor has such a wealth of different kinds of organs. We probably have a better variety of organs than any other school in the country, or certainly in this part of the country. It’s really incredible.”
In addition to several practice organs, Baylor boasts six performance organs in spaces designed to accommodate concerts and recitals: three in the Waco Hall Complex, two in the Glennis McCrary Music Building, and one in the Paul Powell Chapel of George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
Introducing the younger participants to Baylor’s facilities, Jones said, has resulted in many of them applying to study at Baylor, even if they had not otherwise considered it. In fact, one year, Baylor’s graduating class of organ students consisted entirely of former camp participants, Jones said.
One such former student is Aaron Garcia ’06, organist-choirmaster of Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Giddings. Garcia attended Baylor’s organ camp for the first time at the age of fourteen, having never before considered Baylor as an option for his undergraduate studies.
Garcia was so impressed by the facilities and Jones’s knowledge and personality that he came to Baylor and now serves as one of Jones’s associate camp instructors. He attributes his involvement with Baylor in large part to the retiring professor’s influence on his life.
“Dr. Jones teaches you how to play to keep the audience actively involved,” Garcia said. “There’s a drive behind it; there’s a spark to her playing. She’s a very high-energy woman, and so we feed off of her energy in lessons.”
Courtney Faulkner, administrative assistant for Baylor’s keyboard division, also credited Jones’s teaching style and dedication for arousing such interest in the organ camps.
“She’s very experienced, very gifted,” Faulkner said. “Her knowledge of the instrument and knowledge of music in general is just incredible, and I think that’s what draws people in. She’s extremely kind, extremely loving, and I think her personality just adds to why people are drawn to her and why they come to study with her.”
Jones said after this camp ends, she will focus on completing a study of the organs of the Texas hill country and produce several more recordings. Following her retirement, she plans to travel with her husband, play at concerts for a few more years, and continue composing music and writing her memoirs.
For information about other summer music camps at Baylor, click here.