NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS

Music Huskie Spotlight

Huskie Spotlight: Daniel Burke, Music Education ’22

Daniel Burke

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path? I have always been very creative, and I enjoy building things. With that in mind, it is no surprise that when I was very young, I wanted to be a LEGO model designer. Later, I wanted to be a video game designer. I am not pursuing these old aspirations, but rather, something that was equally a part of my life growing up: music.

What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study? I am majoring in Music Education. During my junior year of high school, I was getting ready to look at where I would go for college, and to do that, I needed to know what I wanted to major in. My two biggest interests at the time were music and computer science. I was performing very well in both subjects, and I could see myself succeeding in either profession.

One day, while sitting in my computer science class thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, I recalled something my mom often told my brother and I concerning a career. She said, “You’d better like what you do, because you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life.” In that moment, I knew that music is what I should pursue. It has been a part of my life ever since I was able to sit next to my dad at the piano as a toddler, and it is so fulfilling for me that I know I will be happy making a career in music.

I was inspired to major in Music Education because throughout my time in school, I always thought my band directors had the coolest job in the world, and it would be my chance to inspire a love for music in my students the way my teachers inspired me.

What is your favorite thing about studying and/or playing music at NIU? My favorite thing about studying music at NIU is definitely the community. I have gone through many classes and ensembles in the music building with a lot of the same group of peers, and you get to know each other pretty well! The friends that I have made while working on my degree make the hard work worth it, and the hard days easier. Music is by nature a communal activity and it’s such a nice feeling walking into the music building, always seeing people I know and support.

How have you connected with other students at NIU? Coming here as a freshman, I didn’t know anyone, but being a part of the Huskie Marching Band from day one really helped me find new friends and instantly made me part of a community, which really helped me get on my feet in college. In my time here at NIU, I have been fortunate enough to have had many opportunities for leadership within the marching band and large concert ensembles, which allowed me to better connect with members of the music program.

Are you involved in any student organizations or extra-curricular activities?  How have they added to your experience as a Huskie? Outside of classes and ensembles, I am a member of NIU’s Music Education Agents. We are a student-led organization dedicated to using music education to be agents of change in underserved communities.

Why did you choose NIU to study music? I am a second generation Huskie! My dad graduated, class of 1990, so NIU was always sort of on my radar. I visited campus, which is far, but not too far from my hometown, and I had a demo lesson with my clarinet professor Dr. Gregory Barrett, which all made a good impression on me. I had heard good things about NIU’s Music Education program, and I was very glad that NIU had a marching band and pep band. All this made me pretty happy to choose NIU.

Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? One of my favorite professors that comes to mind is Dr. Thomas Bough. Dr. Bough is the Director of Athletic Bands and is the conductor of the Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble, so I have seen a lot of him over the course of my time here. He has high expectations for his students and never gives up on us. He has been a mentor to me and has given me great guidance during the time I have been at NIU.

Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it? My favorite place on campus is Huskie Stadium. Marching band has had such an impact on me, and everything from the excitement of game day to the atmosphere of late night rehearsals culminates into a collection of memories and experiences that I will never forget. The place that encapsulates these special times is Huskie Stadium.

What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges? To someone who is going into college, an important quality to have is the ability to persevere. Sometimes, maybe a lot of times, things won’t go exactly the way you planned. You might face mental/physical/social challenges that make you want to quit. In these times, it is really important to find time to reflect and seek support from your peers and teachers. The important thing is to learn from your experiences, dust yourself off, and continue with a positive attitude doing your best. No one has learned anything new by staying in their own lane, so it is important to chase after your aspirations and persevere if things get rough.

Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently? Something I had to do differently in college was create an organization system for myself. That is a fancy way of saying I write everything I need to do down in a notebook so I can check things off. College makes you juggle a lot of things, and without a way to organize it, you can spiral out of control! Finding the method that worked for me, as far as organization, was crucial. Organization is different for everyone, but since I have adopted my to-do list syle strategy I have been happier, more organized, had more free time, and I feel more in control than ever.

What do you do to relax or recharge? To relax, I like to play music purely for enjoyment, completely separate from regular practicing. I like to play video games with my brother, watch YouTube, write/arrange/listen to music. I have an amazingly supportive girlfriend and we are very active. We go running, biking, play tennis, work out at the Recreation Center, etc. We also watch a lot of shows on Netflix.

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