usic is Ryan Rager's life. For this Buena Vista University junior, sharing his knowledge and love for the art is half the fun for this dedicated music major.
The Newell-Fonda High School music students were fortunate enough to have him as part of their department last school year and are welcoming his presence again this year.
He worked last year with vocal music director Laura Sievers, serving as accompanist and helping with lessons. This year he is working with new music director Kim Wankum helping out in the same areas. The music department has grown over the past two years and that is a welcome evolution.
His help has been more than appreciated and he is having a great time.
A native of South Sioux City, he thrives on being among musicians. His schedule is more hectic than many people could keep up with. Besides attending classes at BVU, and coming to the N-F High School twice a week, he also returns to Newell on Wednesday evenings and Sundays to direct the choir at Nain Lutheran. He has begun his third year at Nain, the entire time he has been in this area.
"I'm the lucky one," he said. "The people are wonderful."
But in reality, Nain Church members are the ones that are fortunate to have this professional young man. The church did not have a choir for 10 years before Rager came on board. Numbers have increased from 10 to 22 during the three years. "I'm real pleased," he said.
"I like to keep busy," the university student commented. And so, in his spare time, he has been busy writing a musical play, with the help of university's assistant professor of theatre Bethany Larson.
"It's quite a project but I think it will be worth it," he said.
"Good Fences" is a full musical, murder mystery/love story that has been in the works for five months, with some urging from Dr. Larson.
The goal is to premier the performance on the BVU stage.
"I grabbed ideas from three of my favorite plays and I hope it will work. A lot of the preliminary work is done. We're now working on the lighting and staging, the techinical stuff, and proof reading and trying out the songs.
Rager thanks the ideas that have come from his "think tank," a group of eight supportive people "that have been there to hear all my crazy ideas." The group have offered him suggestions and ideas that have all helped in the perfection of the project.
He remains quite modest about the importance of writing the musical. "I've got a lot of irons in the fire and this is only one of them," he said.
Rager has been playing "music" since he was very young. He recalled borrowing his mom's pots and pans and wooden spoons. Arranged just right, the pans served as a drum set."
He has been singing nearly as long as he could talk. He's not sure where the musical talents came from.
The son of a minister, his mom has been a member of the choir for many years but his dad, he said, "couldn't carry a tune in a bucket."
He played in the concert band, was selected for All-American Concert Band and All-State Jazz Band and played with a number of high school ensembles. At BVU, he is a member of Jazz Express, a quartet; Unintential Dissonance, a seven-member men's accopallo group and a mixed group, Aural Pleasures (which N-F music director Kim Wankum is also a part of.) He also serves as the director of two a cappella groups at the university.
He will also be the director, this year, of the Christmas program at Nain.
With so much going on in this young man's life, he has a huge calendar "that's packed to the minute."
There is no doubt this polite and very professional musican will go far in his life.
His goal is to be a band director after he graduates from BVU. He hopes that enthusiasm will spread so they, too, can see that music can be a wonderful part of their lives.
"I don't know what I'd do without music. I'm terrible at math and I can't build anything," he laughed."
But wait, he can build excitement in students when they see his enthusiasm, and as that enthusism grows, the numbers of those wanting to be a part of the programs will also increase.