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.
It’s an awards-season cliché, but it really is an honor just to be nominated. Becky Hall knows: she was among the 217 quarterfinalists for the inaugural Grammy Award for music education—selected from more than 30,000 nominees.
Becky, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Ithaca College School of Music, couldn’t escape the honor. After stifling an attempt by students to nominate her (“I said, ‘No, no. Please don’t do that. There are so many more deserving teachers!’”), she later found out that a colleague had submitted her name. A few months later, she received an email notifying her that she was in the quarterfinals.
“I was speechless. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.” And though she wasn’t among the 25 who made it to the semifinals, the commitment and passion that earned her the nomination—as well as a 2010–11 Teacher of the Year Award from her district—is what matters most. She learned these qualities growing up and honed them at Ithaca College.
“[IC] taught me discipline. It taught me to be organized in my way of living, in my presentation of thoughts. The professors truly are the example of lifelong learners: always going to conferences, always reading up on the latest techniques, strategies, philosophies. As a teacher, I try to do that as well.”
When she decided to earn her master’s degree while teaching full-time at the school she attended as a child, Becky enrolled in IC’s graduate summer music program. The program gives current music teachers the opportunity to earn their master’s degree in three summers.
“I wanted to get better educated in my field—to understand the philosophies, theories, and practice of music. Ithaca was the best place to do that.”
Her dedication to teaching didn’t earn a Grammy, but her reward is being able to inspire students to strive for their best. “I didn’t grow up with much, and I didn’t have confidence. But luckily I found music, I stayed dedicated to it, and I went to one of the best schools for music. Now I’m living the dream. I get to teach music. I perform on the weekends and at night, wherever and whenever I can. I tell them, ‘If I can do it, then you can, too.’”
Allyce Barron had a problem when it came to deciding how to approach her future. “Since high school I had been torn between music and neuroscience. I actually applied to schools for both, so I could determine what I wanted to do.” Lucky for Allyce, she found she could do both at Ithaca College.
As a music education major, Allyce created a course in music cognition that allowed her to research how children learn in the classroom. “My independent study research was specifically about chunking and immersion learning. Do students learn a song better in pieces or when they are immersed into it all at once?”
With the help of a professor in the music theory department, Allyce experimented with teaching her 10-and 11-year old students songs using the chunking and immersion teaching strategies. She found that the students learned the song better if they were immersed in the entire piece repeatedly. “It was a surprising finding. All of the students felt initial frustration with the immersion, but figured out how to adapt to learn the piece.”
Allyce is now in grad school at Harvard, where she is studying the relationship the brain has with learning, especially in classroom settings. Looking back, she relishes the opportunity she had at Ithaca. “The rigor of the music education program is profound. It’s amazing that undergraduate students can take so much ownership in their learning. Thanks to Ithaca College, I feel ready to change the way students learn.”
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