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
Fairy tales are woven around nuggets of wisdom or truth. When Christina Bryant crafted a fairy tale during her senior year at Ithaca College, she folded in themes that explore her own revelations in life.
Jemila’s Tale is a 10-minute short that Christina wrote, directed, and edited as her senior thesis in the cinema and photography program. It’s about a 6-year-old girl who creates her own fairy tales after her local library runs out of the genre, and it explores themes of identity and ethnic representation through Jemila’s imagination.
“I was inspired to write the short after I'd finished a documentary about black Barbie dolls,” Christina says. “I thought about what it would look like if a young black [girl] created her own images of herself in places she felt excluded, like fairy tales for example.”
Those projects came together after Christina hit her stride as a film student, which she says happened during her last two years at IC. “Once you know the films you want to make, or you know you want to work with a camera, or you want to write, or do production design, your path becomes clear,” Christina says.
Jemila’s Tale was shown in three different film festivals after Christina graduated. She also took a two-month fellowship in North Carolina, followed by volunteer work at several other film festivals, including Sundance and SXSW. Her natural drive meshed well with her IC experience.
“Over the semesters, I actually began to crave a busy schedule because it brought out my best creative work,” Christina says. “Why not take non-major classes like African American Popular Music and Sociology of Sexualities, co-lead a non-profit video project with my fellow Park Scholars, paint a shed during a weekend Habitat for Humanity Build, and find local actors to be extras for a web series about Finger Lakes wine?”
Though she’s left IC, she thinks that work ethic is especially important to her budding film career. “By wearing different hats as a screenwriter, producer, set designer, social media guru, even holding a heavy light or two, I am still just as committed to the larger mission at hand: to tell a good story using film,” Christina says.
“That's how real life is. You have to find your passion in everything, no matter how small.”
>> More on this story: Park Scholars Program
Original photo of Christina and her young actress by Allie Taylor '11, producer of Jemila's Tale.
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