Ball State Graduate School Blog

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A Day in the Life of Hilary Janysek, a graduate student in flute performance

Hi! I am Hilary Janysek, and I am a graduate student in flute performance. I am in my second year of study in the Doctor of Arts Degree, and it is my fourth year at Ball State (I also did my master’s degree here.) Coming to Ball State for graduate studies in music was a HUGE decision for me, as I moved far away from my friends and family, and left a well-paying job as a public-school teacher in Texas. However, as you will see in this snapshot of my life, grad school challenges me to think in new ways and inspires me to go after my dream of becoming a professional performer and university professor.

7:40 – 9:15 AM: This week was only the second week of the semester, so my schedule is still getting settled. I decided to take some down time last night instead of working on some assignments, which is why I woke up so early this morning. My day began by arriving at school at 7:40 a.m. to get to the library and prepare for my 9:30 a.m. class. The class is MUST 722: Seminar in the Principles of Music Theory, or more commonly referred to as Theory Pedagogy. In this course, we learn how to teach music theory to undergraduate students, which is part of the core music curriculum. Music Theory is usually taught by specialists, but many beginning university teachers are assigned to teach this course. Our assignment was to plan a 15-minute lesson on a topic of fundamentals. It had been a while since I had learned or taught the topic I was assigned, but once I started reviewing the text, I became very excited about teaching it. I typed out a lesson plan and printed it just in time to head to class.

On the way out of the library, I stopped by the main desk to pick up a bundle of books that came in through interlibrary loan (a FANTASTIC resource to use). I am starting a research project for my lecture recital, and I ordered many pieces I had never heard of before. Getting new music is like Christmas morning for me, so I was so excited to pick them up and am looking forward to trying them out later!

Interlibrary loan materials

Interlibrary loan materials

9:30-10:45: Theory Pedagogy class. We ran out of time for my teaching assignment, unfortunately. But, I had a blast acting like a student and trying to come up with questions undergraduates might ask. This energized my enthusiasm for teaching even more and got me fired up to teach my lesson next week!

10:50-11:50: Right after class, I had to run downstairs for a meeting with the graduate coordinator of the School of Music, Dr. Linda Pohly, and the director of graduate recruiting and enrollment, Stephanie Wilson. This was another inspiring moment in my day as I got to learn more about what happens “behind the scenes” in terms of recruiting management. We looked at enrollment numbers from previous years and discussed some ways that we can improve recruiting strategies for the future. This meeting and other activities I have participated in as a Graduate Recruiting Ambassador are so important to my career as a university professor, and I am so blessed to take part in them.

11:50-12:15: My “lunch” time. I had a few minutes to eat a power bar and answer emails before my next task. Don’t worry, I’ve been snacking all morning and will continue to snack in the afternoon when I can!

12:30-1:30: I teach a private flute lesson. While in grad school full-time, holding a graduate assistantship in Music History and participating in the Graduate Recruiting Ambassador Program, I also have a very small studio of private flute students to bring in a little extra income. My student today is also a private teacher in the area who wants to improve her playing and eventually audition for graduate programs. We enjoy high-level and pedagogical discussions throughout each lesson, which I LOVE!

1:30-2:30: After the lesson, I head back to the sanctuary of my office, where I spend some time answering emails, organizing some school work and preparing for another class I will be attending tonight.

2:30-4:45: These couple of hours are devoted to accomplishing work for my assistantship. As a GA, I am assigned to 20 hours of work per week. Usually, I teach an undergraduate course, MUHI 100, but this semester is devoted to more administrative tasks for faculty members—organizing and uploading Blackboard content, grading (oh, so much grading!) and working on data files that will lead to a professor’s publication.

5:00-7:40 PM: This is my final class of the day, MUSE 743: Seminar: The Role of Music in Higher Education. I have been looking forward to this class because of what I have heard from other students who have taken it. I knew the rumors would be true when the professor began the class with a statement about how his job in this class was to make sure we all got jobs. Great! That is what I need! Throughout the semester, we will discuss resumes, curriculum vitas, cover letters, the tenure process and how to make a good impression. In the first class, we all had to describe what job we wanted to apply for and why we were qualified in two minutes. It was a great exercise to prepare us to speak eloquently in an interview process. I left the class again feeling inspired and uplifted.

Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

8:00-10:00 PM: Dinner! I had a pretty action-packed day today, so it was nice to meet up with one of my best friends and fellow grad student for dinner at Ruby Tuesday where we enjoyed good food, laughter and great discussion.

10:00-11:30 PM: Since I didn’t get much practice time in today, I had to end the day with a bit of practice. With such a hectic schedule, I really do love practicing. I can really feel progress happening and don’t have to worry about other work-oriented tasks.

Midnight: I finally get home and crash into my bed! I must get some good rest so I can do it all again tomorrow!

I’m not going to lie, life as a grad student for me is EXHAUSTING! But it is the kind of exhausting that makes you excited to get to work, learn and impact others. I would not be who I am today if I didn’t take a leap and go to grad school four years ago. I am excited for what the future holds after achieving my graduate degree, and I will always be thankful to Ball State for providing me with meaningful and applicable experiences, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with talented colleagues.


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Music composition conference coming to Ball State

Hard work pays off as doctoral student composer cohosts national event


Ball State doctoral student Carter Rice

For four years, the Society of Composers’ Student National Conference has been on hiatus becausedespite some universities’ interest in hosting the conferenceno one has stepped up to log the hours it takes to organize the conference, Ball State Doctor of Arts student Carter Rice said. That’s changing this year, thanks to Carter’s determination and vision as the national student representative for the organization.

The conference will be held at Ball State Nov. 17-19 in the Music Instruction Building, in Choral and Sursa halls. There will be seven different concerts featuring student compositions from all over the U.S., many performed by Ball State graduate students.

Carter’s drive to host the conference stems from his belief in the importance of submitting to conferences and getting student music played for audiences as a way to build a curriculum vita, and for the networking opportunities.

“[It is] really hard to do as a student, especially an undergraduate student when you don’t get paid,” he said. Carter hopes to give as many young composers the opportunity to do those things by offsetting some of the costs through hosting the conference at Ball State.

But the conference benefits more than just students, Carter says. “We don’t usually get a chance to hear this sort of music on the radio, or out in public; in addition to that, we get to hear what young people are doing and creating.” He says this generation of composers have challenged people’s perceptions and assumptions about composers by creating music that’s at home in a concert all as it is in a club, bar or new art scene. “It’s music that shouldn’t scare people away, but really invite people in. It is very approachable and accessible; some of it is a bit crazy, but fun as well. So musician or not, there is absolutely something to be gained from it, even if it is just a matter of seeing what people are doing artistically today, because it changes so rapidly.”

About 150 compositions were submitted from varying experience levels from 18 year-old students to post-doctoral composers. Carter, a doctor of arts student in theory and composition with a secondary emphasis in telecommunications, and cohost Chad Powers examined the compositions and selected 50 to be performed at the conference. Carter admits that it has been a lot of work to host, but he looks forward to a successful event.

For more information, such as the schedule of events and compositions, visit the conference website.

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Meet Clayton, a Doctoral student teaching and performing in the School of Music

Today we are thrilled to introduce you to Clayton Dunaway, who is working to complete a Doctor of Arts degree in Clarinet Performance and Music Theory. Clayton spent some time sharing with us about how his experience at Ball State University has prepared him to be an expert teacher and has given him the chance to grow as a performer. Clayton, who is originally from Joplin, Missouri, had heard about Ball State’s strong reputation from several of his mentors while working on his Masters degree.

Clayton Dunaway Graduate School

Photo credit: Ball State University Photo Services

The deal was sealed after he attended a recital at the International Clarinet Association annual convention given by Dr. Elizabeth Crawford, associate professor of clarinet at Ball State. She gave a spectacular performance of the Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Sonata (a piece he was preparing for his Masters degree recital) and he knew that he wanted to meet her and learn from her.

On what makes Ball State a great place to earn a graduate degree:

“Ball State University is a great place to earn a graduate degree due largely to the quality of its instructional programs as well as the expertise of the faculty. The Doctor of Arts in Music allows graduate students the opportunity to develop skills in research, scholarship, and teaching through the advanced coursework and internship and externship placements. This allows students like me the ability to develop the skills, experiences, and feedback necessary (within realistic educational settings) in preparation for a future career as a music educator and professional musician. Additionally, I feel that the Doctor of Arts degree (one of only a few programs in the country to offer this) will help me to enhance my marketability and knowledge/skill set by completing both a primary and secondary area of emphasis rather than solely one. This additional component will allow me the opportunity to broaden my abilities and be capable of pursuing additional career opportunities.”

 On the benefits of his graduate assistantship: 

“I am the recipient of a full doctoral teaching assistantship where I teach applied clarinet lessons, rehearse and perform with the Ball State University Graduate Woodwind Quintet, coach chamber music ensembles, and assist Dr. Crawford with creative endeavor projects. My assistantship duties with the Graduate Woodwind Quintet have been especially important for developing my musicianship and character. The opportunity to play challenging repertory with other graduate student performance majors is a wonderful experience and is a constant challenge. We meet regularly to rehearse great literature for this performance medium and each member is invested to contribute the highest levels of musicianship.”

Clayton Dunaway Graduate School

Photo Credit: Ball State University Photo Services

On his teaching internship: 

“I am currently completing an internship experience teaching with Dr. Ann Hicks (Assistant Professor of Music Education). Dr. Hicks has given me the opportunity to help prepare and implement class lectures as well as actively participate in student assessment and curriculum decisions. She has challenged me to enhance my classroom presentation skills, leadership, as well as develop my ability to explain concepts and diagnose student performance. I feel confident in my ability to contribute positively within this class, and enjoy the ability to collaborate and work closely with a Ball State master teacher like Dr. Hicks. Through participating in this experience, I have been provided a ‘real-world’ view of teaching an academic course in higher education which will prepare me for my future career.”

On how Ball State has prepared him for a career after graduate school:

“The experiences both inside and outside the classroom are helping me to develop the necessary expertise to prepare myself for a career as a performer and educator. I am blessed with the opportunity to learn from, interact with, and perform for faculty who are leaders in their field. My instructors have offered challenging and memorable experiences that have stretched me as a student and have impacted my views and abilities in this field.”

Clayton Dunaway Graduate School

Photo Credit: Ball State University Photo Services

On how graduate study at Ball State has transformed his life: 

“Through pursuing a doctorate at Ball State, I am increasing my marketability by augmenting my skills and experiences. Additionally, I am increasing my professional network through interactions and experiences with Ball State School of Music faculty and fellow students. I have developed as an educator through my teaching responsibilities, pedagogical experiences, internship experience, as well as direct supervision by my faculty mentor. The teaching responsibilities have probably been the most impactful to me – I am developing skills in diagnosing and refining student performance and my own teaching abilities through both individual applied music lessons and group ensembles. Everyday (and every class) is a new experience and I am enjoying the opportunity to teach and learn from my students!”

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Clayton!

If you’d like to learn more about graduate programs in Ball State University’s School of Music, visit the department’s website or contact Dr. Linda Pohly, the coordinator of graduate programs in music.