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Justin Polyblank '09

Justin PolyblankA 2009 graduate of IUP, Justin Polyblank knew he wanted to study music education at IUP early in life.

When he was in just sixth grade, he auditioned for the IUP High School Honors Band, an annual program that allows high school students to compete and perform with other Pennsylvania students. Fifteen years later, he received the Young Alumni Achievement Award for his musical accomplishments.

“Really early on, my elementary band director noticed a lot of potential, as did my parents,” Polyblank said. This potential turned in to his passion, and as time went on, he said, his passion just kept growing.

After seven years of performing with the IUP High School Honors Band, he had already developed a relationship with music department professors, including department chair Jack Stamp, and knew he wanted to attend IUP to study music education.

“I know that IUP has one of the strongest music education programs in the state, and I thought it would be a really good fit,” Polyblank said.

During his time at IUP, he received multiple awards, including first place at the Delta Omicron Solo Competition, winner of the IUP Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition, and being named a semi-finalist in the 2007 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.99 grade point average.

His passion continued to grow, and Polyblank continued his education, receiving his dual master’s degree in saxophone performance and jazz studies from Indiana University, Bloomington.

An internship at Disneyland in California during his studies there, he said, was one of the best experiences he ever had.

“Every morning before we started work in the park we had clinics with various professional musicians from all over the music industry,” he said. “That was the most rewarding part.”

Now, Polyblank is a member of the United States Army's Pershing's Own Ceremonial Band, in which he performs military for funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery. He also performs in the Concert Band and Army Blues jazz band.

“I knew that I wanted to use my musical talent to pursue a performance career, and I also knew that I wanted to pursue a performance career that would make a difference,” Polyblank said. “So, my ultimate goal was always to play in one of the United States military premier bands.”

Having now fulfilled one of his ultimate musical goals, Polyblank said he sees himself retiring from the Army and pursuing a second career as either a public educator of a subject completely unrelated to music. He continues to work on his side project, Barkada Quartet, a saxophone quartet that began while he was obtaining his master’s.

In photo: Justin Polyblank served as a guest in music classes during his return to campus to accept the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

--Ellen Matis '12


Published April 2013

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