Indiana University School of Music
Skip to content

Trombone Area       trombone image

Skip Left Navigation [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Alumni Comments

IU Trombone Alums have been highly successful in obtaining high-level performing positions and have been heard in such ensembles as:

Baltimore Symphony, Boston Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic , Florida West Coast Symphony, Hague Residence Orchestra, Holland, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, New World Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra Nazionale della RAI Torino, Orquesta Ciudad de Barcelona, Oregon Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Puerto Rico Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Symphony, U.S. Marine Band "The President's Own" (Washington D.C.), U.S. Army Field Band (Washington D.C.), U.S. Navy Band (Washington D.C.), U.S. Air Force Band (Washington D.C.), U.S. Military Academy Band (West Point, NY) and the Vienna Philharmonic

In addition to the above, IU Trombone Alums have attained teaching positions at such institutions as:

Butler University, Chico State University, Del Mar College, DePauw University,

Drake University, Henderson State University, Indiana University, Miami University of Ohio, Northwestern University, Pittsburg State (KS), Roosevelt University, Temple University, University of Missouri- Kansas City and the University of North Texas.

And, of course, we salute our dozens of IU Trombone Alums who serve as teachers in public and private secondary schools. It is through their dedication that young people throughout the country are offered the opportunity to discover the wondrous world of music.

Read what these Trombone Alumni have to say about

their IU JSoM experience.

JoDee Davis (DMA 1995)
Assistant Professor for Trombone, UM Kansas City
Trombonist, Sante Fe Opera                                 

When I was looking for doctoral schools, it was important, of course, to find a great teacher. I had wonderful choices at IU, so that? number one: the right fit with a teacher.

Secondly, I was very impressed with the school itself: outstanding programs and opportunities to perform and learn; many and varied ensemble experiences; world-renowned scholars and performers; great facilities; a magnificent library and other resources. I enjoy academics, and IU offers it all. The DMA is a challenging degree which means something when you make it through the program.

So there are many reasons why I attended IU. Most important for the student who is pursuing a performing career are the applied teacher and the kinds of performing experiences available. IU excels in these areas!  

Matt Vaughn (BM 1992)
Associate Principal Trombonist, Philadelphia Orchestra    

I grew up in Indiana and was honestly rather clueless when it came time to decide on college. I had applied to one or two other big schools with good reputations for music and had I could handle and then some. Having three full-time trombone faculty members (when I was there, M. Dee Stewart, Keith Brown, and Ed Anderson) was my heart set on one of the big out of state schools, but ended up choosing IU because I loved the campus! I ended up staying four years for my bachelor, then another year and a half doing graduate work toward getting certified to teach. I was very interested in academics as well as music, and the variety and challenge of coursework at IU is world-class. The number and variety of performing opportunities were outstanding, and I did allalso great--I learned a great deal from all and got tips on approaching problems in many different ways.

Preston Hardage (BM 2003)
Trombonist - U.S. Marine Band "The President's Own"    

My three years at IU were terrific. I began my undergrad studies at a smaller school in Kansas City before deciding to transfer so that I could gain more performing experience and be surrounded by great teachers and players. Although I was accepted to several schools in New York, where I had always wanted to live and study, Bloomington seemed like a great fit for studying music and, most importantly, being happy. After the small conservatory environment, I wanted to experience college life. At IU I learned self-motivation and time management, and was still able to take in Hoosier Basketball, Frisbee golf, and many other extra curricular activities, all the while earning a Bachelor of Music degree from one of the top music schools in the country. The friends that I made and the teachers I learned from will always be an important part of who I am today. I can't imagine not having attended Indiana University, and am happy to know that I made the right decision.

Phil Stehly (BM 2004)
Trombonist, United States Military Academy Band at West Point

Attending IU for 5 years was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was so great being in a music school of this caliber, and being surrounded by such great teachers and colleagues. Whatever genre you are looking for, whether it be band, jazz, theory, IU will have it, and at a very high level. Another thing I loved about Indiana was the fact that I was at a top rate music school in a university setting. I could take a break from practicing/studying and go watch the IU soccer team, or play basketball with my buddies. So to make a long story short, IU is a great school of music, and a great place to be. Whatever you're looking for, there's a good chance IU will have it.

Adam Johnson (DM studies 2003-04)
2nd Trombonist, Fort Wayne Philharmonic                

My experience at Indiana University was definitely a positive one. For me the two most significant assets were the music library and the instruction from the trombone faculty.

As a doctoral student I found the resources in the William and Gayle Cook Music Library to be very useful. As I prepared for orchestra auditions, I could always find scores and multiple recordings quickly and without any hassle. It is hard to overstate the value of a library that is well stocked and well maintained.

As for the individual instruction I received at IU, it was all I could have hoped for. I left my lesson each week feeling encouraged but also challenged. Master classes provided the opportunity to learn from the other faculty as well. As a teacher myself, I have found that being exposed to these musicians and their various teaching methods has served me (and my students) very well. Not many places offer a trombone student the chance to learn from three artists of this caliber.

In addition to the great things I experienced at IU, I also found Bloomington to be a very nice place to live. My wife and I lived about ten minutes from campus and we really liked the small town atmosphere. The slower pace really suited me well. I highly recommend Indiana University to any trombonist who is serious about pursuing a career as a performing musician.

Kaz Kruszewski (BSOF 2001)
Trombonist, Air Force Band of Flight         

Prospective IU Students,

When I auditioned at Indiana University, I was aware of the prestigious reputation of the school and the many accolades of the faculty. This just scratched the surface of my IU experience. Since my 2001 graduation, I have pursued education from many other institutions, and with 20/20 hindsight I can confidently say that deciding to attend Indiana University School of Music was one of the best decisions I ever made. Here are perhaps some attributes of IU that you may not have realized or considered.

The Indiana University Music Library: I believe this is one of the largest, if not the largest, music library in the world. Every recording, book, and periodical seems to be housed in this fabulous resource. I still bring friends to this wonderful place and show it off with pride. Colleagues of mine who attended other music schools tell me of commuting long distances just to obtain resources for their papers. Not here.

Safe/Beautiful Setting: Bloomington does not have "bad parts of town" just beyond the confines of the campus like other music schools. Cost of living is extremely reasonable. Also, I have never felt inspired to practice outdoors at any of the other schools I have since attended, although this was regularly done at IU.

Big Ten Resources: I changed my major during my stint at IU a few times before returning to the School of Music. At many conservatories, if you decide to change your major, you would have to leave the school. A Big Ten school provides clubs and activities for any interest.

Genuine Faculty: IU faculty are able to develop a sincere relationship with their students because they are full-time teachers who aren't always thinking about running to a gig. I dealt with my share of non-musical issues while I was at IU, and my teachers were always a source of wisdom and encouragement. Because of the wonderful relationship I developed with my teachers, I still keep in touch with all of them. There is also a rumor going around that freshman study with Grad students. All music and music ed majors I ever knew studied with a professor. Having three full-time trombone teachers has many benefits.

Content Students: A friend of mine had an exit interview at another prestigious music school. In response to the Dean's question regarding my friend's satisfaction with his college experience, he responded half-jokingly, "Can I get my money back?" I have many good friends from the IU School of Music, and we are all very glad we attended IU. Customer satisfaction is very high!

I enjoyed immensely my time at Indiana University and reminisce often. I wish you the best with your future endeavors, and hope that Indiana University is the best fit for you.

Todd Schendel (MM2000)
J. William Fulbright Scholar, Munich, Germany, 2003-04
Paul Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Fellow

University of Wisconsin, Madison                            

1. Quality faculty, in every discipline. That's where it starts.

2. Many great students, especially brass. Being exposed to many different backgrounds and "ways of doing things".

3. Reputation of Indiana University and bringing in guest conductors, artists, groups.

4. Performance experience on campus and off. The off campus stuff (local symphonies) involves paying your dues but it is a realistic situation.

5. Cook Music Library. It is the best I have ever seen for recordings, scores, music, research. World renown.

6. Isolated

7. Band program. I did not know it was such a quality program before I attended IU. The Band Department is top notch. Really great conductors and people.

Nathan Ford (BME 1999, MM Manchester, England)
Currently in Australia with  

My four years at the Indiana University School of music were a revelation. I still, five years on, cannot imagine a more beneficial, more supportive environment in which to study and perfect those musical skills which have brought me success in the professional world.

As a former teacher of music, I look back at the pedagogical methodology practiced at the School of Music and I am in awe. The academic rigor, the practical experience and the creative encouragement I received from my teachers and tutors, in my experience, cannot be matched at any other institution in the world.

After having gone on to earn my Masters degree from a conservatory (the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester, England), I am acutely aware of the many advantages a School of Music holds over a conservatory. Without even discussing the enormity and brilliance of the School's library, the diversity and intensity of musical experience one can have at Indiana makes it one of the few tertiary musical experiences in the world that can provide the incarnation of a student's imagination.

The trombone faculty is second to none and has achieved the most difficult of educational challenges---the balance between technique and creativity. They are devoted not only to the art of teaching, but to the discovery of new avenues of pedagogical method---they expect as much of themselves as teachers as they do of their pupils as students.

The School's library is one of the greatest resources a music student in America could have. Five years after leaving, I miss the library's comprehensive collection, its accessibility and its user-friendly set up.

My four years at the School of Music were the most formative of my life, due mostly to the fantastically supportive and experienced teaching that I experienced.

Weston Sprott (attended IU from 2000-02, further studies at the Curtis Institute of Music)  2nd trombonist with The Metropolitan Opera                  

I remember my audition at IU, being extremely nervous and thinking I had played REALLY poorly, but nevertheless they liked me enough to give me a chance! I got to play through a fair amount of my music, the faculty talked to me and showed a real interest, walked me down to the admissions office and invited me to a master class later that evening. I got a real feel for the school. People were welcoming, cordial and sociable. IU became an easy choice for me because the professors showed a personal interest in me.

During my studies there, I felt that my teacher was absolutely fantastic. I learned something new and interesting to work on each week. Furthermore, the instruction was detailed, thorough, and always delivered in a positive, encouraging manner. I always left lessons feeling inspired by my teacher's playing and confident that I could improve. I know many people who have studied at other big name schools and leave lessons feeling like their teacher ran over them in a bus. They leave depressed and dejected after being told all the things they are doing wrong and how they're not good enough. I'm glad I've always had teachers who were demanding, but showed that they believe in their students' abilities to be successful. At IU my teacher let me know, "Hey, you're not great player YET. You've got a long way to go, but if you keep it up and work hard, you'll get there!"

I also feel like an important part of my development at IU came as a result of the constant auditioning. Between semester orchestra auditions, mock auditions, and concerto competitions, I must have competed against my colleagues at IU at least 10 or 15 times in a 2 year span. This constant competition gave me a realistic view of where I stood amongst my peer group. The regular auditioning also gives students a way to measure progress. Are you moving forward or backwards in the group? Your freshman year you were in the Symphonic Band, now you're in the Concert Orchestra... maybe you're heading in the right direction, keep doing what you're doing, etc. etc. If it is the opposite, well maybe a performance degree isn't for you. I had trombone friends at IU who have come to both realizations. Equally important, I felt that the regularity of auditions gave me great practice in playing under pressure. I believe the experience of placement auditions and mock professional auditions has helped me to play real professional auditions with less nerves and more calmness than I would have otherwise.

Since transferring to Curtis, I have become aware of the incredible differences between an extremely small conservatory in a major city and a huge music school in Bloomington. I would think its fair to say that in most departments at IU, the best players are as good as the best players anywhere else. The difference in individual instruction is basically none. All teachers are obviously different, but the quality of the faculty at IU is just as good if not better than is offered at any school anywhere. Additionally, the trombone faculty has teachers that can also be admired as people away from the trombone.

The final thing I will say is... I think IU is one of the few places where you can get a great musical education and still get the whole college experience.

Andy Jaeger (MM 2000)
Freelance trombonist   

I'm incredibly glad that I attended IU. I learned so much in the two years and a summer that I was there that I can't even express it. There are so many performance opportunities through the school that I actually had to turn some down. I liked the fact that all the students are immersed intensively in performance situations. Everyone around you is striving for similar goals yet people are very cordial and supporting. Not only do you have the professors guiding you, but fellow students also add to the learning experience. I feel that IU really prepared me for some of the real world performance experiences I encounter in the field of music.

Wesley A. Ballenger III  (BM 2005)
Bass Trombonist, United States Army Field Band            
I have had a close association with Indiana University since coming to the College Audition Preparation in 1999.  After with meeting with many of the brass faculty members, IU became an easy decision when it came to choosing an undergraduate school.  There are many strong programs, and I was able to take advantage of one of the strongest jazz departments in the country.  Working with jazz legend David Baker is an experience that no school can come close to matching. 
I was also able to take advantage of IU's exchange program, through which I was able to study in Vienna for a semester with several of the Vienna Philharmonic trombone players. Talk about experiences you'll never forget!  The extreme diversity and options that IU provides in these facets has been invaluable to me. 

The one other thing that must be mentioned is the camaraderie that exists in a school of this size.  I have made countless life-long friends and connections with people that take their IU experience to all different parts of the country. 

Randolph Johnson (BSOF 2004)
DM Student at Ohio State 

Here are a few thoughts about my IU experience.

1. At Indiana University, the large number of both official and student-organized ensembles accommodates and enlarges each musician? skill level and interests. As I improved and moved on to more advanced ensembles, I was continually surrounded by musicians and conductors who offered something to be learned. In other words, there was always a reason to keep listening carefully and to work things out in the practice room.

2. In addition to the great faculty, Indiana University School of Music regularly brings in guest conductors and guest artists. These opportunities are highly rewarding and create an environment where students and faculty engage in dialogue to discover the value and applications of new ideas.

3. The Indiana University School of Music is a conservatory embedded within a university. Some people complain about the rigorous general academic standards that musicians must meet, but I think it is a great concept. I had the opportunity to pursue other skills in tandem with my musical studies and this has made me a stronger performer and scholar. In addition, it is enriching to meet friends outside of the music department and to participate in a wide variety of programs and activities.

Jason Hooper (BM 2003)
Associate Instructor for Music Theory at IU  

Strangely enough, I ended up at the IU School of Music almost by accident! I decided to apply to Indiana at the last minute because of an article I came across in the ITA journal. In the article, Prof. Stewart, who had just won the Humfeld Teaching Award, was being interviewed by Professor-to-be Lenthe. It seemed like some quality trombone teaching and playing was happening at Indiana, and long story made short, my intuitions were correct.

But what I think people should realize about IU is that a tremendous diversity of opportunities exists here. If you are a focused individual who wants to be an orchestral trombonist, this is the place for you. If you love playing music, but you are not quite sure if you want to be a performer, educator, or virtually any other career-path in music, this is the place for you too. My own story is as follows.

I started as a less-than-stellar tenor trombonist, switched to bass trombone my junior year, and by the end of my senior year, I had made significant improvement and even performed in the Brass Department concerto competition finals. This is mostly thanks to the expert teaching.

But this is where things get interesting. After finishing with a performance degree, I decided to pursue a master? degree in music theory, again at Indiana, which I will complete this year. Along the way, I was able to teach a few of the undergraduate theory classes as an Associate Instructor, and I will be pursuing a PhD in music theory next year.

What I think applicants should get from this story is that we are not all going to be the next trombone superstar (although we sure can try our best!).

However, in the field of music, there is a place for everyone at the table and we all have something valuable to contribute. I cannot think of a better place to explore what you have to contribute than at the Indiana University School of Music.

Helpful links:

Go back to Applicant Information

Indiana University
Jacobs School of Music
1201 E. 3rd Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
Skip to content
Trombone Webmaster
(812) 855-2828