News Alumni Stories 

Mel Ferguson

May 30, 2022

ICC Class of 2019 (Music)

Transferred to Bradley University – Bachelor ‘s in Music

Freelance accompanist/collaborative pianist

I was originally planning to earn an English degree, but after taking an American music history course under Larry Harms, I fell in love with music and switched my area of study. Along with music theory and ear training, I took applied piano lessons and participated in the ICC Hard Bop Jazz Band. After ICC, I wanted to further my college education and earn a bachelor’s degree while continuing to develop my skills as both a classical and jazz pianist. I have accompanied various churches in and around Peoria, as well as companies like Kidder Music. I received honorable mention at the 2018 ISMTA South Competition in the collegiate piano solo division.

Why did you choose ICC?

I was looking for a local university that was also affordable, and ICC fit my needs perfectly. Not only did ICC provide me with affordable education, but it also provided me with a community of like-minded students who all supported each other in our goals. The professors were also extremely helpful and genuinely cared for our wellbeing and success. In all my years of education, I have yet to encounter another community that is as encouraging as were the students and professors at ICC.

What advice would you give to other students considering this program or considering attending ICC?

Find other students in your program and form groups with them—not just for studying, but also for friendship. I believe that success is reinforced by the support of others, and fellow students will be some of your best friends during your time at ICC.

How did ICC shape your future or help you attain your professional goals?

The courses I took laid the foundation for the music knowledge I have now. Coming into Bradley University, some of the courses I took were much easier than they otherwise would have been if I had not previously attended ICC. In particular, the two years of music theory I took at ICC significantly prepared me for music theory at BU; I credit those years to my success in that area.

Did anything surprise you about the ICC program?

Speaking from the perspective of an English and eventually a music student, I was surprised at how flexible the programs were. I initially attended ICC online but transitioned to hybrid and later in-person learning. The transition was smooth, and even when I switched degrees, I never felt confused as to what courses I had to take or what the degree requirements were; everything was laid out to me by my advisors.

What advice would you give current students at ICC to succeed?

Find other students in your program and form groups with them—not just for studying, but also for friendship. I believe that success is reinforced by the support of others, and your fellow students will be some of your best friends during your time at ICC. It may seem like obvious advice, but I think sometimes we can get wrapped up in our own little balls of things to study and deadlines to meet, and that causes us to isolate ourselves a bit. Speaking from the experience of a former music theory tutor, please take advantage of the tutors in your program; it’s free help.