Senior Alyssa Impullitti gets extra animated when she begins describing an interaction she had with an eighth grade flute student.
“I have to tell you this story,” she said, as if we’ve been friends for years and this is the first time she’s seen me in forever. Impullitti was observing a band classroom when the teacher left to run an errand. In the meantime, he left her to manage his flute section.
One of the girls would “throw her flue down when she couldn’t play.” Impullitti talked with the girl, encouraging her on through the difficult sections of the piece and telling her that practice at home might build her confidence.
“So, we’re playing this thing that she kept saying, I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” Impullitti described. “She did it. She just goes like, oh. She looks at me, ‘Oh my gosh, I did it!’ And I was like, ‘Of course you did.’ Her band teacher walks in and here’s what she said to him — I almost started crying — she said, ‘Mr. Thiel, I’m taking my flute home today.’ I just about died. Those are the most rewarding moments. Just getting a taste of what you’re going to do for the rest of your life is just such a cool moment.”
Impullitti’s wanted to be a music education major since she was 15 years old. Originally from South Lyon, Michigan, Impullitti was one of the first graduating classes of her high school.
“It was kind of like a struggling music program because it was a brand new school,” she said. “There were no traditions. We got a new teacher every year. I remember having this wonderment of music and how beautiful it is and how much fun it is to sing, I was just determined to be in choir and be always doing music. I just saw my friends get discouraged. They didn’t like the teacher or they didn’t like that the teacher was changing every year. All my friends started leaving choir. I just, I had this thought: ‘You know what, this isn’t how it should be.’ I realized, like, wow, music education really impacts students. Because I saw it happen to my own friends. How it affected them.”
Her passion isn’t reserved just for vocal or instrumental music, either. She specifically chose to double-major in both types of music education because: 1.) You cannot teach a minor in Minnesota and 2.), both are too close to her heart.
“I dread the day that I have to choose,” she said, “because I know it’s going to happen some time in my career. It’s just going to be like, this is a job I have and guess I’m a band teacher now or guess I’m a choir teacher now. My heart hurts thinking that I would have to let go of one. But, you know, I don’t have to. I just, no, I can’t choose. I could never.”
In the spring, Impullitti will begin her student teaching first at an elementary school in Shakopee, Minnesota, and at Maple Grove High School in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
In the meantime, Impullitti’s days are filled full with music.
For the past five years at NDSU, Impullitti’s describes her days as being busy. Very busy. There are four to eight classes in a day, starting at 8 a.m. – “I’ve always had class at eight. Every single year.” Throughout the day are ensemble rehearsals, usually two per day. Then, there’s two hours for practicing. When you can find time, she said, you eat and you sleep.
As rigorous as the day may seem, Impullitti’s described the Challey School of Music as a house filled with a bustling family.
“It’s like a house. Everyone who lives here, we all say, ‘Well, I live here so I’ll see you around,'” she said. “We all get to know each other really well. It’s like, you feel comfortable here. It’s a little bit different than going to the Union, or something. Just because we see each other every day. We’re here all day long and we go to all the – you know, if there’s a symphony concert on the weekend, we’ll all go to the symphony. If somebody’s having a student recital in Beckwith, we’ll all be at the recital. It’s very much like a home and a family. It’s easy to stay busy, most of the time.”
Yet despite the busyness, and the stress of classes, rehearsals and recitals, Impullitti’s heart is in the music and the kids that she’ll one day be teaching.
“Being a part of this program, specifically music education (obviously that’s my experience) is just the journey of discovering who you are as a teacher and discovering the confidence that you can be a teacher and the confidence that you can do it as your career,” she explained. “And I’ve just felt challenged and sometimes I’ve challenged myself a little too much. I’ve had so many professors here that have just shown me the light so many times, over and over. They’ve been doing it for over 25 years. That, that’s gotta be my favorite thing about going to school here is just learning the confidence to just really form my career.”
Impullitti’s long term goal is to be a middle school teacher, ideally for both choir and band.
To read the full interview with Alyssa, including her favorite classes at NDSU, what it’s like preparing for recitals and what’s all required of a music major, visit ndsuspectrum.com.