A place to explore musical possibilities
Ben Stone, percussion
Class of 2022
Hometown: Des Moines, IA
Major: music and computer science
What makes the UI School of Music unique? Why did you choose to come here over other schools?
I find the environment at the UI School of Music to be captivating. Partially because Voxman is such an incredibly creative space, I feel like the vibe of the UI School of Music is one where creativity and freedom is encouraged, taught, and natural. I love being in an environment where I feel I can explore as many musical possibilities as I want, which is something I wasn’t able to find anywhere else.
What has surprised you in your first year here?
I was surprised by just how right everything felt. I expected things to be different, of course, compared to prior schooling experiences, but I am happy to say things have been better than I could have guessed. I have been surprised time and again by so many kind, helpful, hardworking, fun people, all working hard in things they are passionate about, by the many amazing professors the university has to offer, by the size of an Estella’s burrito, by the amount of people I would meet, by the sheer number of music students regularly visiting Encounter, by almost everything. However, nothing really surprised me in a bad way, and I have been happy for every little surprise over the year.
What is the best thing about life as a percussion major?
To me, the best part of being a percussion major is being part of such a small, tight-knit studio. The percussion studio is housed in its own hallway (tucked away to prevent noise complaints, I suppose), so in many ways it feels to me like we have our own little part of Voxman to ourselves. Compared to my experiences in high school, it is amazing to have such a hardworking, supportive group constantly pushing each other to get better. I love being able to ask people for advice, especially for unique problems which require unique solutions. I love playing in studio class and hearing the feedback people give me, as it always makes me want to keep working harder and improve. While I can’t say whether or not it is unique to the UI School of Music, I love the percussion family I have found here, which is the best part of life as a percussion major.
What advice would you give incoming students wanting to pursue a double major?
While I am only a year into the path of a double major, I can say I have already learned some valuable lessons on what to do and what not to do. One very important thing which helped me significantly was to try to come up with a plan for each semester. Laying out everything I needed to get done on paper helped me figure out what the best courses of action for me are. Second, if avoidable, try not to go too far above the 18 semester-hour limit. I know it is very hard as a music major to do so (I’m at 21 this semester), and while it is doable, it is not necessarily the most fun. However, with a double major involving music, even a normal amount can be tricky. The best thing I discovered was to use any available time to practice and use it. I can usually get a few hours of practice in if I split it into several chunks throughout the day, and it also provides a break from some of my other major’s work.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not busy being a student?
I am part of the Hawkeye Marching Band Drumline, which is a lot of fun, though also a lot of work. I also enjoy spending time with friends, reading, going out on the Pentacrest when the weather is nice, swimming, programming, drumming (I know it’s my major, but I love it), playing some video games, playing with my dog, biking, and arranging music for fun.
What to you hope to do after college?
Ideally, I would like to find some kind of career which can bridge the gap between music and computer science, potentially in music software or something similar. I chose a double major because, while I love music, I wouldn’t want to grow to dislike it if it was my only career option, so I want to be able to leave as many doors open as possible. I also plan to, sometime after graduation, try to explore the world a bit. For now I am embracing the unknown.