Steven Mauk

Professor Emeritus, Music Performance


Why Study Saxophone at IC?

Why should you study saxophone at Ithaca College? There are many fine schools today that have experienced saxophone programs, so why is Ithaca College so special? Listed below are things to consider when looking at IC as your school of choice.


Ithaca College has maintained a strong saxophone program for over 50 years. This began with Donald Sinta, who started as the first saxophone professor in 1965. Following Sinta was Elizabeth Zinn, Marshall Taylor, and Tim Timmons. These individuals stayed for a few years before moving on to other positions. Dr. Steven Mauk has served as the professor of saxophone for the last 44 years. He has built upon the strong foundation of Donald Sinta and has helped establish Ithaca College as one of the premiere centers for saxophone study in this country.


Countless saxophone graduates have gone on to teach in the public schools, probably the most important achievements of all. Many other students now play professionally or teach in university or colleges. Seventeen of his former students have won positions in the top US military bands, including the US Navy Band, the US Marine Band ("The President's Own"), the US Air Force Band, and the US Naval Academy (Annapolis). Below is a list of only a few of those successful former students and their positions.

  • Jamal Rossi - Dean, Eastman School of Music
  • Gregory Woodward - President, University of Hartford
  • Peter Rothbart - Professor, Ithaca College
  • Frank Bongiorno - Distinguished Professor of Saxophone, University of North Carolina (Wilmington)
  • Connie Frigo - Professor of Saxophone, University of Georgia
  • Allison Adams - Professor of Saxophone, University of Tennessee
  • Ian Jeffress - Professor, Western Carolina University
  • Timothy Rosenberg - Professor, Full Sail University
  • Eric Troiano - Professor, University of Arkansas
  • Joan Hutton - Adjunct Professor, Augsburg College and member of the Ancia Saxophone Quartet
  • Angela Space - Saxophone Tutor, University of Southampton (England)
  • Tiffany Engle - Professor and Director of Bands, Calvin College
  • Andrew Carpenter - Adjunct Professor, Carthage College (Illinois)
  • Brian Smithers - Department Chair, Full Sail University
  • Christopher Brellochs - Professor and Department Chair, Duchess Community College
  • Daniel Smith - Professor, Berklee School of Music
  • Jacob Hardesty - Professor, Rockford University
  • Dan Shaut - Adjunct Professor, SUNY Ulster
  • Darmon Meader - Saxophonist and vocalist, The New York Voices (international performing ensemble)
  • Ken Gioffre - Saxophonist with Smokey Robinson and Blood, Sweat, & Tears; NYC performer active in many venues
  • Brian Steele - Saxophonist and composer, BrunoSteele Music Production (many TV music credits)
  • Joel Diegert - Member of Five Sax performing saxophone quintet (Europe); Visiting Assistant Professor, West Virginia University
  • Michael Stephenson - Founding Member and Soprano Saxophonist with New Century Saxophone Quartet
  • Todd Morrison - US Navy Band (Washington, DC)
  • Rachel Perry - US Marine Band (Washington, DC)
  • Anthony Balester - US Air Force Band (Hawaii)
  • Brian Connolly - US Air Force Band (Boston)

In addition to these professionals, many students have been successful in local, regional, and national competitions. Saxophone students have won the Ithaca College Concerto Competition 18 times and been finalists in the international Fischoff Chamber Music competition on several occasions. Some saxophonists have won or placed in the finals of the North American Saxophone Alliance solo competition, and competed in regional and national Music Teacher's National Associate competitions (MTNA). Chinese graduate student, Hantao Li, won the instrumental concerto portion of the 20th United States Open Music Competition and was selected as the top competitor overall. 


A major part of any music student's experience occurs in music ensembles. All saxophonists are required to perform in one of our three bands - the Wind Ensemble, the Concert Band or the Wind Symphony. Auditions take place in the fall and the judges are behind a screen. All competitors perform the same prepared pieces and a sight-reading selection. Each judge ranks the performers individually and no discussion takes place among the judges. Once the top four players are selected for the Wind Ensemble, the other players are then distributed between the other two bands.

In addition to the large ensemble experience, chamber music is a very important part of study at Ithaca College. There are usually three or four saxophone quartets (SATB) each semester. These groups perform both in the School of Music and at venues off campus. Our saxophone quartets are frequently called upon to perform for special events, such as College awards banquets, retirement home and public school concerts, and for Ithaca College Board of Trustees events. Jazz is also an important part of any saxophonists education. Our four jazz ensembles and small jazz chamber groups provide outlets work performances in this important style.


Ithaca College has long been recognized as one of the leading undergraduate institutions in the field of music education. Currently the placement rate for graduating students is nearly 100%. The fact that Ithaca College has very high standards in performance, conducting, and secondary instrument requirements make an IC graduate a top candidate for a teaching position. Our music education faculty are superb and IC even requires both a full year of junior student teaching, as well as the senior student teaching experience.


The classical saxophone training in the private lessons is complimented by our Director of Jazz Studies, Mike Titlebaum, who is a renowned jazz saxophonist. Professor Titlebaum has degrees from the Eastman School of Music on both classical and jazz saxophone. 

Ithaca College was one of the first institutions to offer a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies and that program is still going strong. Titlebaum and the other members of the jazz studies faculty offer courses in jazz history, theory, improvisation, arranging and jazz chamber music. There are four full jazz ensembles, which provide performance outlets for many saxophonists. This gives the IC saxophonist a full spectrum of musical styles and experiences, which will only strengthen their musical knowledge.

Ithaca College is a vibrant and exciting place to study saxophone. I hope you will join us in the IC saxophone experience!