Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Jeff Ball decided he wanted to be a band director while in high school. That made Ithaca College’s renowned music education program the easy choice.
“School districts know that Ithaca College is the best music education coming out of the Northeast,” he says. “A degree from IC puts you at the top of every pile of interviews.” After graduation, Jeff had his pick of jobs in multiple school districts but was dedicated to working in an urban setting. After starting as a general music teacher in the Bronx, he transferred to Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn to take over the band director position. The out-going director was an IC music grad who brought Jeff in because of their shared background.
“She told me, ‘I saw Ithaca on the diploma and I wanted to interview you,’” Jeff says. He landed the job and has been building the program ever since—from 45 kids to 180 currently. This growth is all the more significant considering the vast majority of students in the school are below the poverty line.
“These are kids who really can’t afford their own instruments and can’t afford private lessons. But the quality of performance is extremely high, even though the kids have only been playing for three years,” Jeff says.
This year, Jeff is coordinating the entire performing arts department at the school. As if all that wasn’t enough to fill his calendar, he also conducts the Brooklyn Wind Symphony, a premier wind ensemble composed of 75 semiprofessional adult musicians—many of them IC grads.
“Other people go to their jobs and in their spare time do the things that make them happy,” he says. “Conducting and teaching are the things that make me happy. I’m very fortunate that I get to do what I do.”
>> More on this story: Music Education Teaching Programs
For me, musical performance has always been about the visible and tangible effects of art on an audience. Touring with Ithaca College ensembles gave me those experiences locally and in major cities like New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. But a chance encounter at IC is what really set me on my current path.
When I auditioned and got placed in the Women’s Chorale, I was wowed by the level of instruction and guidance I received from director Janet Galván – all before I was an official music major. Her support continued even beyond my time at IC, but to have it during that first year really spoke to how much she cared about her students.
The thing is, she wasn’t the only faculty member like that. I could always drop by a professor’s office and say, “I’m having a hard time with this, please help me brainstorm.”
Through Janet’s summer conducting workshops, I became familiar with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. A year after I graduated IC, I found out they were looking for conductors. In fact, it was during one of those workshops that I approached YPC’s artistic director and said, “Hey, I’m interested in conducting for you.”
Now I’m the one with the baton, and I get to share the artistic experiences I always sought with the next generation of young vocalists, and inspire them to find their own paths.
>> More on this story: Women's Chorale
- Campus Life and Leadership
- Health Sciences
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- Internships and Fieldwork
- Math and Natural Sciences
- Music and Performing Arts
- All Categories