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
The story of documentary filmmaker Jeremy Levine’s rise to professional success reads a little like a movie script itself. During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, he traveled to Arizona with former classmate Landon Van Soest ’04 to produce a 10-minute short about tensions along the U.S.-Mexican border for an IC film class. Realizing their project was worthy of a full-length documentary, Jeremy and Landon slept in cars; interviewed outlaw pastors, impoverished immigrants, and armed vigilantes; spent a year editing their work and then realized: We have a film. Now what?
“We were faced with a real lesson in distribution,” Jeremy says. “It was part of the surreal experience of being a college sophomore covering a story that hadn’t attracted any national media. Trying to do things well and messing up and starting over again were invaluable parts of my education.”
Jeremy and Landon’s film, Walking the Line, ended up playing at more than 2,000 film festivals internationally and winning a human rights award at one of them. The experience also led to forming Transient Pictures, a production company whose clients include the Sundance Channel and Mother Jones. Among Jeremy and Landon’s recent projects is Good Fortune. An examination of international relief efforts in Africa, the film premiered on PBS’s POV series where it won a 2011 News & Documentary Emmy Award. It has also won the Silverdocs Witness Award, and was an official selection of the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.
“If I had spent the first few years of college with no hands-on production experience, it would have been impossible to make the transition from student to professional so quickly,” Jeremy says. “IC offers incredible opportunities. If you really want to do something, put your mind to it and it can happen.”
>> More on this story: "A Conversation With Jeremy Levine" - FLEFF Blog
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