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School of Music | Music with an Outside Field | Physical Therapy
College athletes aren’t strangers to physical therapy. Injuries need to be prevented or treated when they occur. But Ellie Phillips-Burdge wasn’t an athlete when she developed an overuse injury and sought out PT; she was a dedicated piano student at Ithaca College.
The treatment she received sparked her interest in physical therapy, and Ellie took on exercise science as part of her bachelor of music with an outside field program. At the time, the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance had just begun offering a class and summer workshop that focused on preventing injuries in musicians.
“I was able to recognize a lot of parallels between elite athletes and professional musicians,” Ellie says.
She quickly went about combining her two passions. During her senior year, Ellie presented an independent study on the effects movement, stretch, and relaxation techniques have on musical performers.
“It was a great opportunity for me to showcase the direction I was going in to combine these different worlds,” Ellie says.
A decade after graduating with her degree in music, Ellie came back to Ithaca to get a master’s degree in physical therapy to better blend the disciplines. Now she’s growing her own business, providing physical therapy for performing artists, musical education for disabled individuals, and traditional, stand-alone services in both music education and physical therapy.
Ellie admits music and PT is an uncommon combo, but says musicians and the general public alike are becoming familiar with the emerging field of performing arts medicine. This is certainly the case at Ithaca College, which now has dedicated lab space and a nearly 20-year history of working with performance artists to treat and prevent injuries.
“I think it is something unique the college offers compared to other institutions,” she says.
>> More on this story: School of Health Sciences and Human Performance
Pianists make music with keyboards. Engineers use mixing consoles. Thanks to IC’s sound recording technology program, Shalini Gandhi ’11 can do both.
“I was a pre-med student in Australia when I decided sound recording was something I really wanted to do and America would be the best place to learn it,” Shalini said. “So I took two years off, worked and saved, and made my way to Ithaca.”
Fortunately, Shalini was already an accomplished pianist, because at IC, studying audio engineering requires majoring in performance.
“After doing all the things performance majors do, I had to find free time to get into the studio. As it turned out, I was quite happy recording until four in the morning because recording was my passion.”
The console Shalini spent four years training on—while being paid as an Ithaca College recording services engineer—was the same she uses now, working for WireWorld Studio in Nashville. Plus, the people who taught her, like her current colleagues, were seasoned professionals, among them Alex Perialas, a Grammy-nominated audio engineer and producer with 131 albums to his credit.
“In addition to teaching us the technology,” Shalini says, “Alex gave us insights into the business end of the industry.”
Perialas, whose recording credits include Brian Wilson and Johnny Dowd, helped secure Shalini a curriculum-required internship, at a studio in Nashville, and introduced her to a former colleague, who offered her a job the summer before her senior year.
“This industry isn’t one where you just wave your degree and expect people to hire you,” Shalini says. “Alex’s connections got my foot in the door, and from there, I showed people that IC taught me how things work, not just how to make things work.”
Knowing how to perform didn’t hurt either.
“As a student, I complained about spending so much time sight singing and playing the piano, but my boss is an engineer through and through, and he’s found me useful because I can talk knowledgeably to musicians. Fortunately IC faculty pushed me and expected a lot out of me.”
>> More on this story: Recording Services of the School of Music
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