My Journey

Michael SandvikWhen I started college, I wanted to teach and write music to bring glory to God. In the pleasure of music life, however, I slowly experienced a shift in priorities until by the middle of my third year in college all I wanted was to be famous in the field of music, particularly in the area of composition.

I didn’t really care about getting rich. I just wanted to be a big name and make it into all the history books.

While my sophomore year had been productive in compositional output, the following academic year was thoroughly dry. I felt beyond frustrated. It seemed like every time I tried to finish a piece of music, I couldn’t. I had ideas, and try to work through them, but they just never reached the finish line. That year, I only finished three short pieces.

That spring, the dryness in my life finally began to sink in. Self focus and the desire for earthly fame just does not lead to happiness.

I was often discouraged, frustrated, and hitting walls musically. I claimed Christianity, but my faith lacked vitality. I realized more and more that my musical dryness and my faith drought were walking hand in hand.

The Lord kept calling my heart, and it seemed to me He was asking me to give up music in order to follow him.

An intense personal and internal struggle followed as I wrestled with this perceived calling for several months. At that point music, instead of the God of heaven and earth, had taken the number one place in my heart. It was a scary realization for me, because although I believe with all my heart that God is good and loving and offers eternal life to all, I also believe He holds my eternal destiny (see John 3:16 and 1 John 5:11-12.).

Yet I knew He would never force His love on me, and I had a choice to make.

Finally one morning, struggling in prayer, I surrendered my music and my life to Jesus Christ. I told the Lord I didn’t want to give up music but that I was willing. I still didn’t have peace as I faced the future, but there was a little rest in simply knowing I had made my decision for Jesus.

Over the next several months God showed me I could keep making music, as long as I did it for Him and His glory. Since my full surrender to Jesus in January of 2004, I’ve had such happiness, peace, and joy that I want everyone to experience the same thing.

Around that time, my musical and compositional energy returned in full force. It was almost like I couldn’t stop the new pieces from coming, and over the next three years of college I was blessed and honored to have more than twenty of my pieces performed by the Walla Walla University choirs. My opportunities to teach, conduct, and lead continued to grow, as well.

All these things were nothing short of God’s blessings in my life, and I give Him all the praise.

That’s why, on all my pieces, I write the dedication “to God alone all glory is given” (a translation of Bach’s dedications, Soli Deo Gloria). It’s my hope that my music will bring you joy, hope, and a closer connection with God, whether you’re listening, singing, or playing.

I’m still willing to give up everything for my Lord, including music. But right now, and as long as God keeps giving us the gift, let’s make music together for God’s glory. We just have a short practice session left on this earth before we’ll be making much more amazing music together with the heavenly choirs!

My Compositional History

I started composing just a few months after beginning piano lessons when I was eight. My teachers and family encouraged me to keep writing, so I kept composing music for piano throughout my childhood.

After joining the excellent high school choir program at Auburn Academy (John Neumann, conductor at the time), I fell in love with the choral and vocal sound. I dabbled in writing a few choral and men’s quartet pieces in the first three years of high school. Looking back at those attempts, I’d say they were definitely great learning experiences!

During my junior and (primarily) senior years I more actively pursued writing for choirs and learning the skill.

I talked with my choir teacher, read material, and even contacted composers in my quest to learn. During that time I especially appreciated e-mailing with the great choral composer Alice Parker. She emphasized making the music serve the text, avoiding effects for effects’ sake in the music, and being aware of voice leading, and range.

Most of my choral music from these years was primarily useful in teaching myself the art of vocal writing. But by the following fall when I started my music degree at Walla Walla University, my compositions began to have more musical weight. Since that time I’ve remained active in composing choral, vocal, and piano music, as well as branching into more instrumental writing.

When I’m Not Composing…

You’ll find me teaching choirs and classroom music for grades pre-k through 12. In the off hours, I love running (exercise of any kind, really), gardening, reading, experimenting in the kitchen, and spending time with family and my friends.

My wife Heidi and I are committed believers in the Bible, and members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We believe Jesus is coming soon, and it’s our desire that the music you find here will encourage you in that precious hope.