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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
A lot of people dream of traveling the world. Not many dream of educating it. Shannon Burns came to Ithaca College with an interest in multicultural music education, which led her to an exciting future teaching and learning about music across the globe.
Shannon’s international travels began with a class she took during her senior year at Ithaca College. "I’ve always been interested in other people’s cultures and the impact that music has, but it really came into focus while I was studying African drumming and dance at Ithaca," says Shannon. Assisting in class was the School of Music’s artist in residence, Sulley Imoro. At the end of the semester, Shannon spent four weeks in Ghana with Imoro, studying the music and dance of another culture.
Spending time abroad sparked Shannon’s desire to compare Irish and African music, and to explore music as a tool for bridging cultural gaps. When she learned of the School of Music’s ties to Ireland’s University of Limerick, she applied to the master’s program in ethnomusicology there and was accepted.
After completing her master’s degree, Shannon was recruited by the University of Limerick to teach music theory to undergraduate students. She and some friends also launched a music center in the local community. The purpose of the center is to "make music more accessible, whether it’s through providing scholarships, production fees, or an instrument bank," she says.
Pursuing music education in Ireland wasn’t the last stop for Shannon—she recently returned to Africa on a volunteer trip to Mozambique. "My experience with African drumming and dance at Ithaca and in Ghana helped me bond with people in Mozambique—talking about dance, dancing, or singing with them.
"Visiting Africa again reaffirmed for me how important music is to the overall being and how it is a medium through which people can connect and experience life, regardless of language barriers," Shannon says.
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