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.
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.
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.’”
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