Celebrating Christmas with the Musical Shedd Family
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Brad was raised in a Christian home and felt a call to ministry when he was 13. Alyson gave her life to the Lord as a teen. The two of them met while studying classical music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. They married in 1990. For two years, they both taught in the Cincinnati schools and assisted with young adults at church. That’s when Brad realized he wanted to go back to college for divinity. When they started looking around where Brad could go to school, they checked out Regent University. “We sensed that God would have a lot of neat things for us at Regent,” says Brad. After their move to Virginia Beach, Alyson wanted to teach school while Brad was going to school. However, when Alyson couldn’t get a job teaching, Brad says they relied on God. “He showed us He would be our provider,” says Brad. Between the two of them, Brad and Alyson worked 5 jobs.
They started to play at various events and even performed at Regent’s commencement in 1993. Soon Alyson found a teaching job in Chesapeake and was recognized as elementary school teacher of the year in 1995. Two years later, Brad graduated with his Masters in Divinity in 1997. At that time, their family started to grow. Olivia was born in early 1997. Brad accepted a full-time associate pastor position at Harvest Assembly. Alyson homeschooled the children. “The music part of our lives was not intentional at first,” says Brad. “I wasn’t planning on teaching my children to play music.” When Olivia was 9, she wanted to learn to play the violin. When their second child was old enough, they thought she too would play the violin. “But it just didn’t take for her,” says Brad. After the family attended a concert, Sophia was taken by the harp. So they found one for her to play. (Over the years, Sophia has outgrown different harps, each one growing in price, too. She paid for her latest $15,000 harp by working at Chic-fil A.) Their third child, Stephen, was drawn to the guitar and now plays the viola, too. Daughter Ava plays violin. Susanna plays cello. Laura plays viola. Daughter Juliana plays violin. Their youngest Brennan sings!
Every year the Shedd’s church would gather presents and deliver them to patients in nursing homes before Christmas. The nursing home staff wanted music for the events so the family started playing Christmas music. “That’s where this all started,” says Brad. There wasn’t an intent to go on the road as a musical group. They started Shedd Music Academy at their church, Harvest Assembly. “We are all teachers,” says Brad, who is also an adjunct professor at Regent. Oliva, Sophia, Stephen and Ava teach classes along with their parents at the music academy. One of the things they emphasize is doing things as a family. “There’s a strength that we miss in our modern culture,” says Brad. “It’s hard work to stay unified. We encourage families to serve together and do things together.”
Brad says the family has many Christmas memories. Brad’s birthday is on Christmas Eve. Brad and Alyson’s first date was on December 12. They were engaged over the holidays on November in 1999. In October 2008, they started teaching violin to Olivia and Sophia and went to a concert. When Sophia saw the harpist, she wanted to learn how to play it, but it was too expensive of an instrument. Brad and Alyson were able to save enough money to buy an entry-level harp which they gave to Sophia for Christmas. “It was very emotional,” says Brad. Ava was able to start playing the violin as a result. “Both of these children are clear anchors in the family ensemble,” he says. Both girls plan to major in music. Another Christmas tradition for the Shedds is making “buckeyes,” a candy made of peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. “We make probably between 300-400 of them and distribute them to family, friends and neighbors,” says Brad. The most moving moment on Christmas day is their Secret Sibling Exchange. Each October at their getaway in the mountains, the children draw names. Then they each take turns at Christmas to present their secret sibling with their gifts. “It always touches me to see how thoughtful they have been,” says Brad.
The Shedds will perform Carol of the Bells/Sing We Now of Christmas and For Unto Us.