Ithacranium is the IC Honors Program blog, created and edited by students. The blog, which originated as a newsletter in spring of 2010, is updated weekly with new and relevant content.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
My name is Brian Schmidt. I am a Violin Performance and Education major with a minor in Honors in my sophomore year. As a music major on campus, I spend the majority of my time in Whalen. I am a member of the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra (ICSO), Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra (ICCO), and Chorus. I hold a job at the Library of Ensemble Music and help run the TC lounge Open Mic night every Wednesday. I am also a member of a band comprised of 6 Ithaca College students including myself. The name of the band is “Second Dam”.
“Second Dam” sprouted from a project involving founding members K.c. Weston (Junior-Lead Vocals) and Kayla Sewell (Junior-Cello/Ukulele). They had contacted each other at the very start of their freshman year in the interest of creating and making music together. They met up and did exactly that. The two of them continued this through there freshman year. By the next year, they had more serious aspirations. The group solidified its current members in the spring of 2012. PJ Scott (Graduated-Bass Guitar), Zack Jones (Sophomore-Guitar), Andrew Weir (Sophomore-Drums), and myself (Sophomore-Violin) were the new additions to the band.
Through joining this band I have talked myself through some very pertinent issues involving me as both a music student and a student at the collegiate level.
The first issue relates to professor Bleicher’s honor’s seminar “Why are we here?” In today’s American society, success is connoted with a college education. But what does it mean to have a college education? Why do we come to college? Is it to learn or to experience? Some would argue that college should be about the learning with a healthy dosage of experience, while others would argue the opposite; that college should be about the experience with a healthy dosage of learning. These questions can’t be answered in a small blog post, but I can say that through being a part of “Second Dam” I have realized that college should absolutely be experienced to the fullest. I would argue that experience is learning, especially in the music world. I probably will not be exposed to such a high concentration of extremely talented musicians of varied stylistic backgrounds for quite a while, if not ever again. Because of that, I am going to take advantage of everything here at Ithaca College to the fullest. Through the band, I’m gaining real world experience of gigging, rehearsing, recording, networking, managing, and countless acts of shameless self-promotion (www.facebook.com/seconddam).
As of right now, Second Dam released It’s first five song EP September 15th and has gigged very frequently at local hotspots like “The Nines”, “The Haunt”, “Castaways”, “The Gates”…etc. It’s hard to describe the sound of our band to someone who has never heard us, but since iTunes needed a classification, we put our selves into the indie/alternative/folk category, even though that’s not really accurate. This leads me to my next issue.
As a Classically trained violinist, Alternative violin is quite a different road. It has a much different approach, and is not supported by as large of a community compared to a classical musicians’ community. If anything, being a part of this group has expanded my knowledge as a musician and made me a better violinist because of it. I definitely have struggled with the question of what should music means to me. The answer to this question is always changing, but my current take is that the music should be played for both the performer and listener equally. If either side becomes too selfish, the music becomes either very flashy, or the performer grows bored with performing such “simplicities”. There exists a middle ground between the two that I believe all musicians should acknowledge.
So far, my growth as a musician has grown immensely since I entered Ithaca College. I have experienced so much already, despite it only being my sophomore year. I am excited to continue my years here at Ithaca continuing to explore myself as both a musician and student.
Violinist - Ithaca College School of Music '15
B.M. Music Performance & Music Education
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Victoria Wolak and Grace Wivell, Class of 2014
My name is Victoria L. Wolak, but most people call me Vicky. I am a junior writing and French double-major with a minor in honors. My passions include mochaccinos, baked goods, grammar and education reform. I got involved with the Why Are We Here Film Series last year, and worked with Kelsey Greene ’12 and Elizabeth Bleicher, associate professor of English, to develop the course.
My name is Grace B. Wivell, and I’m an over-enthusiastic Junior English Education major, and Honors Minor. I possess a strong passion for education, drink too much coffee and have an undying love for cows (having grown up on a dairy farm). I’m excited to have the opportunity to help build a student-led honors course, one which I hope will grow and inspire change for a better world.
The two of us met during the fall semester of our freshman year, in Prof. Bleicher’s first-year honors seminar, “Why Are We Here?: Youth Culture and the Problem of College.” The multidisciplinary course examines issues that pertain to American young people, such as standardized testing, college admissions and pop culture. A unique aspect of this course is that it is mostly student-driven. Students take turns planning lessons and leading discussions every week. Throughout the development of the spinoff film series, we have kept the student-led element as the driving force of the course.
The Why Are We Here Film Series includes a delectable array of films, both documentaries and feature films, as well as articles, but it is the students who bring the most to the table. The course itself is interdisciplinary in nature, but while in class the students (already) move beyond the broad “limitations” of its education, film analysis, documentary studies, and media literacy focuses to bring in their own unique academic backgrounds, ranging from English to environmental studies, as well as their personal experiences and passions. This creates a varied and powerful classroom experience, and acts as a strong base to build upon for the remainder of this year’s course and, hopefully, for future classes.
Though we are technically “co-teachers,” we prefer to act as discussion facilitators. Teaching our peers has been both an exciting and rewarding experience. As they learn from us, we are also learning from them. It is this synthetic thinking and group learning, so highly valued in Ithaca College’s Honors Program, which will make the course successful and valuable to not only the Ithaca College community but also the greater community of our ever-expanding world.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Elizabeth Schwartzer and Christina DiCIllo, Class of 2013
I am not a particularly outdoorsy type. My paralyzing fear of stinging/biting insects (bees, wasps, hornets, the occasional horsefly) tends to limit my tolerance of the outdoors to practically zero. Not to mention, despite the fact that I am 75% Italian, I seem to have inherited the Polish skin in the family, meaning that .25 seconds in the sun can result in severe sunburn. Yeah, it’s a joy.
But, for one magnificent day, I decided to throw caution to the wind and venture outside for an extended period of time, on a boat. Into rapids. I had never done anything remotely like whitewater rafting before. I live near Niagara Falls, so I’m usually looking at the water/rapids, not paddling through them. But, being a senior, I decided that this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up. It’s all about trying new things right?
Unlike Christina, I am fairly outdoorsy. I’ve spent the last three summers on the waterfront of a summer camp, and despite the fact that I’m mostly German and English, my skin takes on a lovely Mediterranean glow during the summer months. The sound of buzzing bees doesn’t send me running (hey, it’s a legitimate fear!), and in general, I love spending time outside, especially on the water.
With my camp, I had been rafting three times before (although on the Kennebec in Maine), and loved it. When I got the email saying there was going to be another Honors Rafting Trip this year, I leapt at the chance; we could start our senior year off with a bang, and I could show Christina how much fun water sports could be.
5:45 am on a Saturday is an ungodly early hour to be up for a college student (or for anyone, for that matter). The promise of delicious Wegman’s bagels and a catnap on the bus lured us out of bed and onto the bus, where everyone promptly passed out. 2 hours later, we arrived in Watertown, NY, surprised to see that the starting point for Adirondack River Outfitters was in fact, in the middle of the city. After equipment distribution (During which one of the lovely employees decided to sweetly inform me that this was a rather aggressive introduction to rafting…)and a safety lecture (filled with the usual raft guide humor and terrified looks from Christina), we were on our way.
The trip starts with a few mild rapids that get you used to the idea of what whitewater rafting is. If you find these too intimidating, they’ll let you disembark and you’re off the hook. The water level of the river was relatively low, so these rapids weren’t crazy. Nobody chickened out, and on we paddled. (and I mean paddled. A lot. I was expecting whirlpool after whirlpool, waterfall after waterfall, near death experience after near death experience. Thankfully, this was not so). The expert river guides gave a rundown of what to expect before each rapid, as well as the safest way to swim the rapid in case of ejection from the boat.
After each successful navigation of a rapid, a ‘paddle check’ was called, where we would lift our paddles in triumph with a great cheer! One boat may have even done the ever classy ‘Hoo-rah’ as their cheer. Well played, sirs, well played. Highlights on the river included ‘surfing’; jumping off a (very short) ledge into the current, letting it carry you downstream; swimming in the calmer areas; and (purposefully) maneuvering the raft into a hydraulic, holding on for dear life, and hoping the boat doesn’t tip over. (The mid-day snacks of tortillas with peanut butter, honey, and cereal were delicious, too!) Our skilled boat of Honorites navigated the river like pros and avoided tossing anyone out, flipping, and other catastrophes (though a bee did land on my shoulder and stayed there for a good 30 seconds of pure terror. A boat buddy managed to vanquish the beast (read: get it off me) and I recovered from a near heart attack).
Sadly, the day ended too soon, and after a tow boat ride to a launch ramp, we headed back to ARO headquarters, where we were treated to a barbecue of epic proportions (though they were lacking in round foods). We bused back to Ithaca, reminiscing about our experiences the entire time. Definitely an awesome start to the school year, and especially to our senior year. We can’t wait to see what the other Honors trips have in store!