Pre-College Horn

Update (5/25/21): this program has been cancelled for 2021. We look forward to seeing you in 2022!

This program, for senior high hornists, provides the opportunity to develop advanced technical and interpretive skills in a variety of musical styles and genres through masterclasses, individual lessons, special topics session, and private practice time. Students are exposed to a wide range of repertoire and learn about diverse facets of horn literature and performance practice.

Format: interactive instruction via Zoom.

Eligibility: For students completing grades 8-12.

Tentative Pre-College Horn Daily Schedule:

10:00 – 11:00 AM: Guided Warm-Up
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Sing, Buzz, Play
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM: Special Topics
2:30 – 3:30 PM: Private Lessons/Guided Practice

Application Materials:

  • Submit the ISYM Application Form
  • Participants only: Upload a 5 minute recording of your playing. Audio or video (cell phone quality) is acceptable, and your recording should contain 2 contrasting selections of your choice. Recordings are NOT used to determine your acceptance but for faculty purposes for class preparation. Files must be named “Last Name, First Name_Title of Selection”. Recordings are due no later than Sunday, June 13, 2021.
  • Acceptance notifications are sent on a rolling basis.
  • Additional information for accepted students will be available after April 15, 2021.


  • $350 – Participant
    Participants will full access to all Pre-College Horn program materials and sessions, including private lessons with the program faculty.
  • $100 – Auditor
    Auditors do not perform but are welcome to attend both the 11 AM and 1:30 PM sessions each day. Auditor eligibility: Students completing grades 6-8 who recently switched to horn from another brass instrument.

Program Faculty

 Natalie Douglass, DePaul University and Lake Forest College

Dr. Natalie Douglass is a hornist and educator based in Chicago, IL. Her integrative approach to teaching horn through singing and inner hearing has garnered international recognition and she has worked with hundreds of students to develop fluency as hornists and complete musicians.

Dr. Douglass is currently on faculty at Lake Forest College and DePaul University in Chicago, and previously served as Assistant Professor of Horn and head of brass at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT.  Dr. Douglass has become an authority on inner hearing and solfege training, and specializes in transferring these skills to horn performance. Her pedagogy and teaching philosophies are greatly inspired by Zoltan Kodály, and she spent 2015-2016 on a U.S. Fulbright Grant to the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Academy of Music in Kecskemét, Hungary. She has appeared at numerous international and regional International Horn Society Symposia, been a keynote speaker and clinician for NAfME, and a visiting academic at Oxford University in Oxford, UK. Her masterclasses are in demand for hornists, brass players, and music educators alike, and she has been a guest artist at some of the world’s finest musical institutions, including the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague (The Hague, Netherlands), the Royal Academy of Music (London, UK), the San Francisco Conservatory (San Francisco, CA), and the New England Conservatory (Boston, MA). She has taught horn and lead the musicianship curriculum at renowned Kendall Betts Horn Camp since 2013. Her book, “A Singing Approach to Horn Playing,” is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

As an orchestral musician, she has performed with the Utah Symphony, Quad Cities Symphony, Louisville Symphony, Kentucky Symphony, and Illinois Symphony. She has played in backup ensembles for musicians like Josh Groban, Idina Menzel, and Mannheim Steamroller. While in Utah, she also recorded musical soundtracks, video game music, and film scores for various recording studios in Salt Lake City. She has toured under the batons of Lorin Maazel and Krzysztof Penderecki and performed in venues across Germany, Austria, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Oman.

Dr. Douglass holds a D.M.A. in Horn Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and an MM in Horn Performance and BME in Instrumental Music Education from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Her principal teachers include Randy Gardner, Bernhard Scully, Thomas Jostlein, and Kazimerz Machala. She studied solfege and voice under Agnes Gerges-Gal and Renáta Darázs of the Liszt Academy of Music, Hungary.

Jessica Pearce, Eastern Illinois University

Jessica is thrilled to be Instructor of Horn at Eastern Illinois University.  She completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Horn Performance and Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018 where she worked as the horn studio teaching assistant to Professor Bernhard Scully.  Leading up to this appointment Jessica worked as a freelancer and private teacher in the Chicago area from 2011-2015. In addition to studying with Bernhard Scully, Jessica was also a student of Jim Pugh, with whom she studied jazz improvisation.

Jessica plays Assistant Principal and Utility Horn with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Second Horn with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony.  She has also performed with the Peoria Symphony, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, the Gil Evans Project, Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Chicago, the Southwest Michigan Symphony, and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra.

Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Illinois Wesleyan University where she studied with Christine Worthing. After finishing her bachelors she studied with Adam Unsworth and Bryan Kennedy at the University of Michigan for her masters in horn performance. Jessica has also studied with Neil Kimel of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and David Griffin of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


D.M.A. University of Illinois, 2018
M.M. University of Michigan, 2011
B.M. Illinois Wesleyan University, 2009