Shoshanna Cohen ’23: Excelling as a Musician and a Teacher

A career in music education demands that you excel as both a musician and teacher, and that is what Shoshanna intends to do during her time at Syracuse and beyond. The dual bachelor of music (B.M.) degree program in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, in partnership with Syracuse University’s School of Education, provides students with opportunities to develop teaching competencies, artistry and perspectives in musicianship.

Hometown: Wakefield, Massachusetts
Music Education and a Performance Honors Concentration

Shoshanna Cohen ’23

What inspired you to choose Syracuse University? 

When I was researching schools, my guidance counselor had me make a list of everything I was looking for in a school. My top three priorities were a must for me. If the school did not have my top three asks, it likely wasn’t the right fit for me.

  1. I knew I wanted a program that would allow me to be successful in my field. Music classes are not always the priority offerings in secondary schools, so I knew that having a degree from a college that would allow me to gain skills to fight for a music program and allow my students to be successful was a must.
  2. I wanted a big and spirited student population, but I wanted a small group that felt like a family among a large undergraduate population. I come from a small suburb of Boston where everyone knows each other, and I knew I wanted something completely different in college.
  3. I love snow. I needed to go to a school that included snow in its culture. I know- I am a true New Englander!

So let’s check them off for Syracuse!

  1.  My band directors from my hometown were music education majors at Syracuse University. So, when I was looking for schools, I was automatically interested in Syracuse because I knew that my directors were successful and loved their experiences at Syracuse.
  2. The student population at Syracuse is over 20,000 (inclusive of undergraduates and graduates) which is about the size of my hometown. It was exactly the larger size I wanted, but I got my smaller family within my music education program and the SU marching band.
  3. It snowed on my campus tour and I instantly fell in love with Syracuse.
  4. Syracuse was exactly what I was looking for and more- it just felt like the best fit for me.

What are your major(s) and minor(s) in detail, and what inspired you to choose these areas of study? 

I am a dual between the School of Music and the School of Education, which gives me my music education degree. Essentially, I have two majors combined into one. Both schools work together and I don’t have to worry about a thing when it comes to scheduling and making sure I take all the right classes. I am also in Performance Honors, which is a concentration in performing on my primary instrument. To complete it, I have to give two solo recitals on clarinet, which require a lot of practice and patience.

I have known I wanted to be a teacher all my life. I would set up my toys and pretend to teach them for hours on end. As I grew up, music became my outlet, and I just knew that it was my calling. I want to give my students the same love and passion for music whether it be just playing an instrument for leisure or becoming music educators themselves. Music education was my calling and I am so excited to pursue teaching in the classroom.

What has been your favorite class at Syracuse and why? 

My absolute favorite class was Study of Teaching with Dr. Ben Dotger. I learned so much from his class, from the fundamentals on how students learn to engaging in simulations on situations that could happen when I am teaching. These simulations, or SIMS, are based off real-life situations that use actors and actresses to help give us a baseline of what we can expect. It also lets us make mistakes without having the consequences of real life. I truly feel like I blossomed as an educator in this class because I learned what to do and more importantly, what not to do. Dr. Dotger has also given me the opportunity to present these SIMS to a board of faculty and team members, and I am forever grateful for the knowledge and experiences I have gained.

Can you share what you’re involved in outside of the classroom and provide details on your roles in these organizations, clubs, and projects? 

Outside of the classroom, I am a leader in the SU marching band; I play mellophone in the Sour Citrus Society pep band; a Visual and Performing Arts College ambassador; a VPA peer advisor; the past President and current secretary of NYSBDA-CC; the past secretary of NAFME (a sister of Tau Beta Sigma (marching band Sorority); and a University100 tour guide for Syracuse.

What is your favorite on campus location and preferred off campus location to eat, study, or relax? 

With my major, our studying equals practicing our instruments, meaning you can most likely find me in a practice room in Crouse. However, when I do have those papers to write, I like to study in Eggers Café, Pages Café, or at Unique Tea House on Marshall Street (their bubble tea is to die for). If commuting off campus, I will drive to a Starbucks in the next town over, order a coffee and get some work done. When I just want to relax with my peers, I love staying in and watching a movie or tv show. If we want to get out of the house, I love going to downtown Syracuse and grabbing a nice dinner all dressed up.

What classes will you be enrolled in for this upcoming fall semester? 

I will be taking: Instrumental Rehearsal Techniques (MUE 437), Wind Ensemble (ENI 510), Marching Band (ENI 510), Teaching of String Instruments (MUE 325), Literacy (RED 326), Music Ed Academy (SED 340),  Safe and Healthy Learning Environments (EDU 366), Weekly Student Convocation (MHL 077), Teaching Voice for Schools (MUE 321), Jazz Ensemble Techniques (MUE 415), Teaching of Percussion Instruments (MUE 423), Clarinet Performance Honors Lessons (CLR 449) and Bassoon lessons (BSN 165).  A busy semester but it will be worth it!

What advice and tips would you give to prospective music education majors? 

As my friends will tell you I get right to the point: this major is hard work. However, it is incredibly rewarding. You get to see the impact that your work has on the students that you get to interact with and although it won’t be right away, you have to just keep going to get to the finish line. Take deep breaths and know it will be worth it. Your hard work will pay off when you see that first student understand the material and their face lights up. Also PRACTICE YOUR INTERVALS! Trust me, you will thank me later.

What is your dream job and goal(s) after graduation?

My dream job is to be a band director of a high school wind ensemble and marching band of my own. A much larger goal is to create a safe and inclusive classroom that allows my students to feel free to express themselves through music, performance, and artistic expression. Many students use music as a release and if I can help them in any way, then my job is done.