Middle school music teacher and Ball State graduate student Haley Muller uses the word “memories” so often you’d think she was about to retire.
During her sophomore year as a music education major at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., she toured the U.S. and Spain with the Millikin University Choir.
“That is the absolute best performance memory I will likely ever have,” she says, explaining that three back-to-back years with the Choir was “her most prized memory.”
One of Her Favorite Memories
She conducted her first musical, Violet, during her senior year of college. “One of my favorite memories,” adds the choral and music director for Northview Middle School on the north side of Indianapolis.
Having performed in 22 community theatre productions since third grade and with such a full undergraduate experience, Haley wondered if graduate school, particularly online, could ever compare.
Although online students never need to come to campus, Haley’s teaching position had put her just an hour and minutes from Muncie, home to Ball State University. She decided to visit.
“I knew that this is where I wanted to be pretty quickly,” she says. “Ball State impressed me immediately.”
As did professor Don Ester, professor of music education and coordinator of the master’s in music with a concentration in music education.
“I Knew He Was A Sincere Educator”
“I knew that he was a sincere educator who wanted to genuinely impact current music educators,” says Haley. “His kindness and knowledge spoke volumes. He even let me sit in on one of his courses, which gave me insight to what classes would truly be like.”
Memories of her undergraduate faculty, who today treat her like a professional colleague, had set the bar high for graduate faculty.
“What stands out about Ball State’s online classes are the amount of time the professors take to really engage students, give clear instructions, and most importantly, give strong feedback,” says Haley.
Faculty Encourage and Challenge
As a new music educator, she was worried whether she had the experience to do the program.
“But Dr. Ester saw my strengths, praised my hard work, and encouraged me,” she says. “He encourages his students so efficiently while also challenging them. He always helps students to discover information on their own.”
Likewise Dr. Kevin Gerrity associate director and coordinator of undergraduate music programs. “Dr. Gerrity has helped me a lot with research,” she says. “He is also great at being vulnerable and personable with his students.”
Now in her third semester, Haley is enthusiastic about her graduate school experience, even during the pandemic.
She’s Loved Conversations, Collaborations
“I’ve been able to have a lot of great conversations with other students in my classes about different ideas and possibilities during virtual and hybrid learning,” she says. “I have loved the collaboration!”
Haley also loves teaching in public schools. But her future might hold the possibility of a doctorate and teaching on a college campus.