Jeff Schaller ’13 knows the power of a teacher’s influence. A high school music instructor volunteered to teach Schaller the string bass, which became his instrument of choice and influenced his Illinois State studies.

Schaller had wanted to play guitar since fourth grade, initially teaching himself. But it wasn’t until the high school lessons that he fell in love with
the string bass and orchestra.

“It inspired me to keep playing and get better,” Schaller said, which is exactly what he did as an ISU music composition and education major. He has his own double bass because a scholarship received through the college helped cover his tuition expenses so that he could invest in the instrument.

“It definitely helped put me through school and was a relief,” Schaller said of the scholarship that was especially a blessing given his family’s financial load. His mother underwent a heart transplant, which became an inspiration to Schaller during a music composition class.

He wrote a 12-minute string orchestral chamber ensemble piece titled “Do Nation” to celebrate the donated organ. Schaller surprised his mom with
a performance of the piece on campus.

Student teaching is another treasured memory for Schaller. He spent 16 weeks in the Chicago Public Schools, which is where he envisions teaching.

“I will eventually take a high school orchestra job or grade school general music position. And I will be where I’m needed, the inner city,” Schaller said. He has no qualms, noting that “ISU prepared me really well to be a teacher and more.”