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.
Brian Diller had questions and knew where to get answers.
“How can I conduct better? How can I listen better? What am I not even hearing yet? What is the next level for me? It’s those kinds of deeper questions that I went back to school for,” he says. “Ithaca was the place to ask those higher-level questions.”
Brian conducted a high school band for three years after he received his undergraduate degree. During that time he developed as a teacher, learned how to delve into problems, and gained insights into conducting and music. But as those questions emerged, he knew it was time to pursue his graduate degree.
And for help finding the answers he was looking for, Brian had one person in mind: Ithaca College professor Steve Peterson. Brian was aware of Steve’s reputation as a conductor and teacher already. His first chance to meet and work with the renowned instructor came during a weeklong summer workshop that Steve hosts at Ithaca College every year. “It really opened my eyes to a lot of new things about music, teaching, conducting, and everything I wanted to be as a musician,” Brian says.
Brian applied for and was accepted into the graduate program two years later, its small size allowed for plenty of class, practice, and consultation time with professors, as well as continuous opportunities to conduct pieces with the various groups in the School of Music. Brian considers the time spent with the ensembles incredibly meaningful, especially the capstone to the program—the master’s recital.
“Steve gave the wind ensemble to us graduate students for three weeks to do a whole program. We did all the rehearsing, all the planning.” In addition, one of IC’s cello professors performed a solo during the program. “It was a great opportunity to collaborate with the faculty and have a soloist with the group,” Brian says.
Shortly after earning his master’s, Brian was named to a one-year position as an associate lecturer of music at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He’s exploring doctoral programs in music as well. And though he’d love to continue teaching at a college level, he says he’d be perfectly happy to return to the high school level—now that he has those deep questions answered and is equipped with the skillset to answer new ones on his own.
“Professors at Ithaca College weren’t teaching us [graduate students] so much as they were guiding us in our own research and giving us the tools to search for our own answers. And it was done in a really meaningful and effective way by the entire faculty,” Brian says.
In the early afternoon on Thursday, August 2, 2012, Meghan Musnicki took off on the ride of her life. Eight athletes focused on becoming one, rowing with a combined strength and fluidity that made them seem to fly over the surface of the water. The coxswain set the pace and shouted encouragement from the stern of the shell. Nobody could catch them.
In over two years of training with the U.S. Rowing team, Meghan won a handful of medals, including gold at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. But in the cool waters of Eton Dorney, Meghan’s greatest rowing goal was realized—the U.S. women’s eight had won Olympic gold.
Before joining crew at Ithaca College, Meghan could not have known that rowing would be part of her life after graduation. She transferred to Ithaca as a sophomore psychology major. "They were all very welcoming and friendly. They didn't make me feel like I was an outsider even though I had just transferred in the middle of the year," Meghan recalls.
The camaraderie Meghan felt only grew from there, as she formed lasting friendships with her teammates and coach, Becky Robinson. The team trained hard together and saw competitive success along the way. They won two NCAA titles, and Meghan was a 2005 first-team Division III all-American. It was then that she first saw the possibility of rowing in her future.
After graduation, Meghan decided to pursue a career in nursing. She applied to a number of accelerated nursing programs and was accepted—but the call of the water was strong. She had begun training more regularly and intensely, and put nursing on hold to work toward her Olympic dream. Among the many things she carries with her from her time at Ithaca College is the drive to be the best rower she can be.
"I love to win. I've always had a passion to compete, train, and be fast. It takes a level of commitment, drive, and willingness to push yourself beyond where you think you can go."
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