Brass Boot Camp

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June 10-12, 2019, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Plainfield East High School, Plainfield, IL.
Grades 9-12.


The Brass Boot Camp gives you the training and experience you'll need to improve as a musician. You will be educated and inspired through the use of our customized pedagogical materials, active participation, frequent demonstrations and by application of the skills you acquire.

Musical Exercises

As part of the Brass Boot Camp, you will receive a packet of musical drills and exercises specific to their instrument. The level of difficulty ranges from intermediate high school to collegiate. Topics and musical exercises include:

  • Expanding range in both directions.
  • Improving technique.
  • Increasing lip flexibility and endurance.
  • Producing a professional tone.
  • Solving intonation problems.
  • Twelve-key fluency.

Skill Building

In addition to building skill as a performer, Brass Boot Camp offers you the chance to apply those skills in the following areas:

  • Breathing and stretching.
  • Daily chamber music performances.
  • IMEA audition tips.
  • Explore and perform selected solo literature.
  • Managing performance anxiety.

Registration open is now open! The NIU Brass Boot Camp $200 fee includes T-shirt, nametag, lunch and activities.

Online Registration Form

Paper Registration Form



Tom Bough
Yamaha artist, NIU professor and Brass Boot Camp founder, composer and conductor


Kelly Langenberg
NIU applied artist, educator and performer


Mark Ponzo
Conn-Selmer artist, NIU professor and prolific soloist


Cameron Kotovsky
NIU graduate assistant and experienced educator

Cameron has served as the Coal City High School director of bands, the Easton Valley CSD music director and as an ensemble member with Quad City Wind Ensemble, Big River Brass Band, Route 66 Community Band and the Fox Valley Brass Band. He also has extensive experience in trombone and conducting.


Camp will run 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Monday, Jun. 10

Time Activity
8 a.m. Set-up
8:30 a.m. Participants check in
9 a.m. Breathe and stretch with the Breathing Gym
9:30 a.m. Long tones against a drone (warm up)
9:45 a.m. Lip slurs for flexbility
10:30 a.m. 12 key fluency and intonation, SAM exercise
11 a.m. Break
11:15 a.m. Lip slurs to develop range (harmonic series)
11:45 a.m. Scale fluency. Lots of patterns to build fluency in the entire key, not just the major scale.
12:30 p.m. Lunch provided
1:15 p.m.

Masterclass, by instrument. Emphasis - Recommended method books for ILMEA and beyond.

Bough - tuba/euphonium
Ponzo - trumpet
Langenberg - horn
Kotovsky - trombone

2 p.m.

Like-instrument chamber ensembles

Bough - tuba/euphonium
Ponzo - trumpet
Langenberg - horn
Kotovsky - trombone

2:45 p.m.

Lecture: Heroes on the horn - guidded listening to professional recordings

Bough - tuba/euphonium
Ponzo - trumpet
Langenberg - horn
Kotovsky - trombone

3:15 p.m. Break
3:30 p.m. Full camp, brass ensemble rehersal
4 p.m. Dismiss

Tuesday, Jun. 11

Time Activity
8:30-8:50 a.m. Participants arrive and check in
9 a.m. Breathe and stretch with the Breathing Gym
9:30 a.m. Long tones against a drone (warm up)
9:45 a.m. Lip slurs for flexbility
10:30 a.m. 12 key fluency and intonation, SAM exercise
11 a.m. Break
11:15 a.m. Lip slurs to develop range (harmonic series)
11:45 a.m. Scale fluency. Lots of patterns to build fluency in the entire key, not just the major scale.
12:30 p.m. Lunch provided
1:15 p.m.

Masterclass, by instrument. Emphasis - Recommended method books for ILMEA and beyond.

Bough - tuba/euphonium
Ponzo - trumpet
Langenberg - horn
Kotovsky - trombone

2 p.m.

Like-instrument chamber ensembles

Bough - tuba/euphonium
Ponzo - trumpet
Langenberg - horn
Kotovsky - trombone

2:45 p.m. Break
3 p.m. Lecture: Managing performance anxiety, strategies from the pros
3:15 p.m. Full camp, brass ensemble rehersal
4 p.m. Dismiss

Wednesday, Jun. 12

Time Activity
8:30-8:50 a.m. Particpants arrive and check in
9 a.m. Breathe and stretch with the Breathing Gym
9:30 a.m. Long tones against a drone (warm up)
9:45 a.m. Lip slurs for flexbility
10:30 a.m. 12 key fluency and intonation, SAM exercise
11 a.m. Break
11:15 a.m. Chromatic confidence: it's always the same pattern.
11:45 a.m. Scales fluency. Lots of patterns to build fluency in the entire key, not just the major scale.
12:15 p.m. Lecture: masters of hte mouthpiece - selection tips from the pros
12:30 p.m. Lunch provided
1:15 p.m.

Like-instrument chamber ensembles

Bough - tuba/euphonium
Ponzo - trumpet
Langenberg - horn
Kotovsky - trombone

2 p.m.

Full camp, brass ensemble rehersal

3 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. Set up for final performance: parents, guardians, family and friends invited
3:30 p.m. Final performance
4 p.m. Dismiss