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Making Good Music for a Good Cause

Written by Conor Harrington

Jaime Ocheske '13 organized the benefit concert with volunteers from local music fraternities

When senior Jamie Ocheske heard an IC music school alum needed a helping hand after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, she knew she had to get involved.

Ocheske, a clarinet player and music education major, organized a benefit concert for Elizabeth Altbacker’s music education program at Long Beach Middle School on Long Island, New York. The hurricane damaged almost all of Altbacker's classroom instruments, sheet music, and storage units. Altbacker graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in music education in 1994. The concert was on March 22 in Hockett Family Recital Hall in the Whalen Center for Music at Ithaca College, featuring performances from 12 different students on a variety of instruments.


Ocheske is a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, a music fraternity at IC. Along with the Binghamton chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon and general donations, the concert raised over $350 and will continue to raise money until Altbacker visits campus in April. The majority of the proceeds from the concert will go toward replacing the Wenger Locker system for Altbacker’s classroom instruments.

Altbacker stays in touch with many of her former professors at IC. She reached out to Mark Fonder, professor and chair of the music education department, when she was at a loss for how to put the music program back together after the hurricane.

She says, “Dr. Fonder gave me the single best piece of advice, it has become my mantra while rebuilding. He said, ‘Liz, it doesn't matter what's in the room, it matters who is in the room.’” 


It's with that advice and a positive attitude that Altbacker has rebuilt her school's music program, with help from major music companies like Fender and from non-profit organizations like Mr. Holland's Opus, GS Gives and Music Rising.



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