Sometimes, we make decisions on a whim. Often, we regret these decisions, like pulling an all-nighter or ordering a second helping of cheese curds at the Hub. However, for music senior Michael Hornback, a last-minute decision to switch his major from accounting to music education has been one of the most rewarding decisions he has made. From the groups he’s been involved in, to the faculty he has worked with, Hornback has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the music department and will reflect upon it fondly as he looks to graduation and deciding on what to do after his time at Northwestern.
The summer prior to his freshman year, Hornback made a last-minute decision to switch from an accounting major to music secondary education. Even within his freshman year, he went back-and-forth between music and biblical and theological studies. In the end, he settled on studying music after finding where his passion truly lied.
“I thought I was going to be a pastor because of my love for scripture. However, what I failed to realize is that I really had a passion for teaching and for showing students their value. Do I love music? Absolutely,” said Hornback. “But my pure passion for music is not the only reason I study it. It is the opportunity to share my passion with others and make them feel valued, whether they are a part of the music-making or just sitting back and listening.”
During his time in the music department, Hornback has been involved in a plethora of groups and ensembles. These include Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Heritage Choir, A Capella Choir, Saxophone Quartet, Musical Pit and the Just Jazz Combo, where he mostly plays the saxophone. In choirs, he sings bass and is currently the section leader.
When he’s not onstage or rehearsing for his next concert, you’re likely to find Hornback practicing or performing with the Black V, or as he likes to call it “Northwestern’s very own rebellion.”
The wide variety of deep conversations Hornback has been able to have during his time at NW is something he will cherish deeply even after his time at NW is over. He’s been challenged and gained a lot of insight from the discussions he’s had in the music, theater, theology and education departments. He also notes that his time as a resident of Hospers Hall has truly been something he’ll never forget. “Living there is just an experience.”
After he crosses the stage and receives the deeply coveted diploma from President Greg Christy himself, Hornback hopes to stay in Iowa for a few years teaching high school band. He would then hope to obtain a master’s degree in conducting, and even possibly a doctoral degree afterwards. You can see his conducting skills in action during the symphonic band concert to be held on November 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Christ Chapel.
Michael Hornback will be a deeply missed presence at NW next year, but even more so in the practice rooms of the music building and roaming the floors of Hospers. Though he won’t be a physical presence on campus next year, he has some imparting advice for those who find themselves, like most of us, upset or frustrated at some point in the semester with classes or activities: “Be patient with yourself. Learning is a process that will continue for the rest of your time here and beyond. When you don’t understand something, keep working hard and your hard work will pay off.”