About the Trombone Studio

Trombone Studio with Joe Alessi

Ben McIlwain performing Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra: In Memoriam to Gustavo de Campos Cassemiro by Polina Nazaykinskaya

Under the direction of Dr. Ben McIlwain, The University of Southern Mississippi Trombone Studio averages between 20 to 25 trombonists with various majors ranging from music education and performance to jazz studies and liberal arts.  We offer graduate degrees—both master’s and doctoral in trombone performance.  In addition, we have graduate assistantships available.







  • Jean-Paul Brion (BM) - accepted to Michael Dease's Jazz Trombone Institute at the Brevard Music Center

  • Grant Futch (MME) -  advanced to semi-final round for Second Trombone Position with Jacksonville Symphony

  • Craig Watson (DMA) - advanced to the live round of the bass trombone audition with the US Air Force Ceremonial Band in Washington DC
  • Jean-Paul Brion (BM) - advanced to the live round of the Walt Disney All-American Collegiate Honor Band
  • The following students were accepted as participants to the Southeast Trombone Symposium: Jon Hunzeker (MM), Spencer Hudson (BME), Mark Whitfield (DMA), Kyle Moore (BM/BME), Jonathan McNeer (BM/BME),, Jonathan Holladay (BM/BME).


  • Steven Hooper (MM-2013) - offered a position in the United States Navy Band program

  • Grant Futch (MME)- Finalist in the American Trombone Workshop's National Solo Competition (Division 3)

  • Kyle Moore (BM/BME) has been accepted to participate at the Latzsch Trombone Festival held at the ArtEZ Conservatory in Enschede (The Netherlands) and the Music Academy North Rhein Westfalen in Heek (Germany) in December 2014.

  • Grant Futch (MME)- Runner-up at audition for Principal Trombone of the Mississippi Symphony
  • Jonathan Holladay (BM/BME) will be studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary during the fall 2014 semester. His trombone study will include lessons with Gustav Hona at the Franz Liszt Academy
  • Jerrick Matthews (BM)- Instructor of Trombone at Jackson State University
  • Zach James (BM/BME)- Instructor of Trombone at William Carey University
  • Kyle Moore (BM/BME) Accepted with Scholarship to Sewannee Summer Music Festival
  • Jonathan McNeer (BME)- Accepted with Scholarship to Sewannee Summer Music Festival
  • Kyle Moore (BM/BME) accepted into Participant Class at the Southeast Trombone Symposium
  • Joey Short (BME) accepted into Participant Class at the Southeast Trombone Symposium
  • Jonathan Holladay (BM/BME) accepted into Participant Class at the Southeast Trombone Symposium
  • Adam Tackitt (BME)- band director at Gulfport Central Middle School
  • Helen Echazabal (BME)- music teacher at East Rankin Academy


  • The Southern Miss Trombone Choir- invited to perform twice at the International Trombone Festival in the June of 2013.
  • Grant Futch (BM)- Winner of the Southern Miss Bands Concerto Competition.  He will perform William Goldstein's Colloquy in Spring 2013 with the Southern Miss Wind Ensemble.
  • Zachary Walley (BME) : Band Director N.R. Berger Middle School, Hattiesburg, MS
  • Zachary James (BM/BME): Asst. Band Director: Sumrall High School, Sumrall, MS
  • Grant Futch performed Goldstein’s Colloquy with the USM Wind Ensemble as winner of the Band Concerto Competition (Spring 2013)



  • Zach James (BM/BME), Steven Hooper (MM) and Craig Watson (DMA)- selected as participant and performers at the Southeastern Trombone Symposium in Columbus, GA!  The faculty for this event include Dr. Denson Paul Pollard (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Colin Williams (Atlanta Symphony), Nathan Zgonc (Atlanta Symphony), George Curran (Atlanta Symphony) and Dr. Brad Palmer (Columbus State University).
  • Zach James (BM/BME)-  Honorable Mention in International Trombone Association’s Donald Yaxley Solo Bass Trombone Competition. 
  • Craig Watson (DMA)- Winner of both the the William T. Gower Orchestra Concerto Competition and the Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition.  He performed the Brubeck Bass Trombone Concerto twice in less than a week with both the USM Wind Ensemble and Orchestra!


  • Craig Watson (DMA)- Winner of the bass trombone position with the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra.
  • Steven Hooper (MM)- Winner of the second trombone position with the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra.
  • Jerrick Matthews (BM)- Graduate Assistantship at Michigan State University.  At MSU, Jerrick will study with jazz trombonist, Michael Dease.  Jerrick was also accepted into the graduate programs at Manhattan School of Music and the University of North Texas.
  • Craig Watson (DMA)- Fellow at the Alessi Seminar.  This week-long seminar is led by Joseph Alessi of the New York Philharmonic and Juilliard School.
  • Zach James( (BM/BME)- Bass Trombonist in the Blue Lake International Orchestra.


  • Grant Futch (BM)- Winner of Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition.  He performed the David Concertino with the USM Wind Ensemble.