Professor Barry L. Houser is the Chair of the Conducting Area, Associate Director of Bands, Director of the Marching Illini, Director of the Fighting Illini Athletic Bands, and Clinical Associate Professor of Music where his responsibilities include conducting a number of concert ensembles in the Illinois Bands program, the Athletic Bands, and the 400 member Marching Illini in addition to teaching conducting courses. Professor Houser’s teaching experience encompasses both extensive public school and university experiences.

A native of Indiana, Professor Houser served as Director of Bands and Performing Arts Director at NorthWood High School in Nappanee, Indiana, where his bands developed a reputation for great musicianship which in turn earned the program state and national recognition. Prior to his position at NorthWood, Houser served as the Assistant Director of Bands at Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida. Bands under Houser have performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the NBC Today Show, the ISSMA State Marching Finals, and the Indiana Music Educators State Convention. Other performances include the Indianapolis 500 Parade, the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Outback Bowl Parade and Halftime Show, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, the Washington DC National Memorial Parade, Chicago Bears Halftime shows, and performances with Maynard Ferguson, the Dallas Brass, Canadian Brass, Boston Brass, Gregg Potter, Douglas Yeo and many other talented artists.

Houser holds professional memberships in the College Band Directors National Association, National Band Association, NAfME, Golden Key National Honor Society, Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi International Band Fraternity, Honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and has been honored by the Indiana General Assembly and the US House of Representatives. He is the recipient of the Indianapolis Star Academic All Star Award, the WNDU Channel 16 Excellence in Education Award, as well as being listed in various “Who’s Who” publications throughout his career.

Professor Houser is active nationally as a guest conductor and clinician in both the marching and concert mediums.  He has served on the staff of the Macy’s Great American Marching Band and the National Events Mass Band, which performs annually at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a contributing author to the popular marching band textbook The System by Gary Smith as well as numerous submissions to the Teaching Music through Performance in Band series. Houser has served as Governor of the North Central District of Kappa Kappa Psi and currently serves as chapter advisor for the Nu Xi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi on our campus as well as Chapter Advisor for the Phi Mu Alpha Chapter. He has served as the North Central Division Chair for the National Band Association and is currently serving on the Athletic Band Board for the College Band Directors National Association as well as the Chair of the Athletic Bands for the Big Ten Band Directors Association. During the summer, Professor Houser is the Director and President of the renowned Smith Walbridge Clinics, one of the largest marching band | leadership camps in the country with locations in Illinois and Florida, attracting over 1000 students each year.

Professor Houser is an educational consultant for Ultimate Drill Book and is recognized as a Yamaha Master Educator.



Dr. Hannah Rudy serves as Assistant Director of Athletic Bands where she conducts the University Band, teaches conducting courses, serves as assistant director for the Marching Illini, and leads the volleyball and women’s basketball bands. Previously, she served as the Assistant Director of Bands at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. Prior to her appointment at Kennesaw State, Dr. Rudy was a doctoral conducting associate and graduate teaching assistant at the University of Oklahoma studying in the studios of Dr. Shanti Simon and Dr. Michael Hancock. Currently she is presenting and expanding her research in artistic score study, conducting pedagogy, and wind band literature.

During her graduate studies at both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Colorado Boulder, she served as the assistant conductor for all concert ensembles and collaborated regularly with featured soloists from the OU and CU faculties, as well as composers-in-residence. During University of Oklahoma’s Wind Symphony album recording and video projects, she served as Assistant Producer, a member of the design team, and coordinated personnel and logistics for the sessions. Dr. Rudy has since served as conductor and producer for video projects such as a digital collaboration featuring composer, vocalist, and activist Dr. Leila Adu-Gilmore in her poignant work, Freedom Suite. Dr. Rudy has lead projects and presentations that have provided resources to music education students and aided in building connections between students and diverse composers from around the country.

Concurrent with her work with the concert ensembles, Dr. Rudy has been instrumental in the design and execution of multiple halftime shows and student development of bands in the Big XII, PAC 12, Big South, and Big Ten athletic conferences.

Dr. Rudy holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Georgia. Following her undergraduate studies, she taught high school and middle school band in the state of Georgia. She began her graduate studies with Dr. Donald McKinney and earned a Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting and Repertoire from the University of Colorado Boulder. Following her time in Colorado, she earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Wind Band Conducting from the University of Oklahoma.


Aaron Kavelman is a percussion educator, clinician, performer and composer who grew up listening and performing jazz alongside his father, an accomplished jazz pianist. Growing up in a musical family, Aaron watched his four older sisters in the high school band program. Inspired by the local marching bands, Aaron would tape a set of bongos onto a chair and choreograph drill in the backyard, thus the beginning for his love with the marching arts.

With twenty-two years’ experience teaching private lessons and twenty years teaching drumlines throughout Illinois, Aaron brings a wealth of experience and passion to whomever he teaches. Regardless if it is on a competitive field or in support of athletics, he demands top effort from each group. Aaron also has numerous compositional and arranging credits throughout the Midwest from a variety of percussion programs.

Aaron has a bachelor of music and a master of music in percussion performance from Illinois State University where he studied with Dr. Tom Marko, director of jazz, and served as the teaching assistant to Dr. David Collier, head of percussion. Aaron is currently working on his doctor of musical arts in jazz performance with professor Joel Spencer, along with a cognate in North Indian classical music under Dr. Christopher Macklin at the University of Illinois. He currently serves as the drumline instructor for the Marching Illini and continues an active writing, playing and independent clinician schedule.


Kaitlyn Pugh serves as the Marching Illini Color Guard Instructor. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Kaitlyn spent four years on MICG, serving as both captain and squad leader during her time. Growing up in Lafayette, IN, she is given credit for restarting the successful Pride of McCutcheon Color Guard program. Formerly on staff with the Pride of McCutcheon marching band, she served as a color guard and marching band tech, choreographer, and interim color guard director. She also served as their assistant winter guard director. Additionally, she has worked with the North Montgomery winter guard program and Smith Walbridge Clinics as a clinician, specifically focusing her instruction to students just starting in color guard. In her free time, she does exhibition performances with the Elevate guard programs and volunteers with HOBY Leadership programs.



Michelle Bell is excited to become a doctoral candidate in wind band conducting and serve as a graduate teaching assistant with the University of Illinois Bands. Michelle earned her master of music in wind band conducting from the University of Minnesota where she studied with Dr. Emily Threinen. While at UMN, she assisted with the Marching Band, University Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble.

In 2018, Michelle was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA where she assisted with the Marching Band and Concert Band, and directed the Pep Band and various chamber woodwind ensembles. She also taught courses in theory, conducting, instrumental methods, and woodwind methods. Prior to her time at E&H, Michelle taught at St. Cloud State University, where she directed the Sports Band.

Michelle graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011, earning her bachelor of music education degree as well as a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army National Guard. Since then, she has served in the Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota Army National Guards. Currently, she holds the rank of Captain and is deployed as a Company Commander in support of the Southwest Border Mission, where she leads a company of over 100 Soldiers.



Alex Mondragon is currently a doctoral candidate in wind band conducting and serves as a graduate teaching assistant with the University of Illinois Bands. Alex grew up in the Denver metro area in Colorado and earned his Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Alex served as the Assistant Director of Bands at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado, taught beginning band at various Boulder elementary schools, and assisted with several Boulder middle school bands. In addition to teaching in the public schools, Alex maintained a private studio of trombone and euphonium students ranging from grades 5-12.

Alex earned his Master of Music degree in Wind Conducting from The Ohio State University where he served as a Graduate Teaching Associate and assisted in all facets of the band program. While at Ohio State, Alex served as a guest conductor with all bands and worked extensively with The Ohio State University Marching Band. He wrote drill for both the Athletic Band and the Marching Band that was performed as part of both pregame and halftime.

Alex’s primary conducting teachers include Dr. Russel Mikkelson, Dr. Donald McKinney, Dr. Matthew Roeder, and Dr. Matthew Dockendorf. He studied euphonium with J. Michael Dunn. Alex’s professional affiliations include the Colorado Bandmaster’s Association, the Colorado Music Educator’s Association, and the National Band Association.



Rebecca Mulligan is a candidate for the master of music in wind band conducting and serves as a graduate teaching assistant with the University of Illinois Bands. Rebecca received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro in 2018. She has played, and guest conducted, the Piedmont Wind Symphony, the Savannah Wind Symphony, and the Wingate Wind Ensemble. Prior to moving to Illinois, she served in the United States Army as a Bandsman. After joining the Army in 2019, she served in the 3rd Infantry Division based out of Coastal Georgia, as a clarinetist, librarian, and conductor. During her time with the 3ID, she performed in the Concert Band, Drill Band, and Woodwind Quintet. She has also performed two tours with the United States Army Field Band as a clarinet substitute, performing concerts all along the Southwestern part of the United States, and in New York City. She now serves with the 208th Army Reserve Band based out of Concord, NC. 



Jacob Arche is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Education with Licensure from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will serve as a graduate teaching assistant for the Illinois Athletic Bands. Originally from Sterling Heights, Michigan, Jacob earned his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Minor in Music from the University of Michigan in 2018. While at Michigan, Jacob was involved in the University Band, Michigan Basketball Band, and Michigan Marching Band where he was a pregame and halftime rank leader of the Horn section for three years. After graduating, Jacob worked at Michigan Medicine as a technician in the Dlugosz Lab, a research lab studying skin cancers, until 2022. Jacob worked on the Merkel Cell Carcinoma project under the supervision of Dr. Monique Verhaegen. He continued playing music as a member of the Michigan Alumni Pep Band and Concert Band.

Jacob has spent the last decade teaching athletic bands and leadership. Since 2014, Jacob has been an instructional staff member at Smith Walbridge Clinics under the supervision of Professor Barry Houser. There, Jacob directs 500+ high school and college drum majors over the course of two weeks in the areas of pedagogy, conducting, marching band fundamentals, and showmanship. As senior staff, he supervises a team of instructors by refining their lesson planning, time management, teaching fundamentals, and teaching styles. Jacob also works for his alma mater at Sterling Heights High School where he established and leads the all-day student leadership retreat for the marching band and served on its band camp staff as a visual coordinator. 

Jacob is excited to be pursuing his passion in music education at UIUC. He believes that educators not only have the important task of teaching their respective subject matter, but also intangible life lessons, and wants to provide that for the next generation of students. In addition to playing Horn under the guidance of Bernhard Scully, he is eager to work with the Marching Illini and the rest of the athletic bands. Many of the music educators that inspire him most are products of UIUC, so he is thrilled to be following in their footsteps.



Nathan Maher is currently pursuing a Masters of Music from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign under the tutelage of Debra Richtmeyer while also serving as a graduate teaching assistant for the Illinois Athletic Bands. He has earned his bachelor of Music Education from the University of Illinois where he also acted as a teaching assistant to the award winning University of Illinois Saxophone Ensemble.

As a performer, Maher has been a part of many ensembles at UIUC including the Marching Illini, Hindsley Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Saxophone Ensemble, and the Wind Orchestra in which he was Principal Saxophonist for several years.  He has also traveled around the country performing as a member of various saxophone quartets such as the Alto Saxophonist in the Elements Quartet and the Tenor Saxophonist in the Fidelis Quartet, both of which were invited to perform at the 2019 NASA Regional Conference and 2020 NASA Biennial Conference, respectively.  

Maher is actively teaching throughout the Chicagoland Area as a clinician for high school marching bands, an adjudicator for solo and ensemble competitions, and as a guest instructor for various high school concert bands.  He also maintains a private studio of many young saxophonists of all levels.  Maher has performed in masterclasses with Timothy McAllister, Nathan Nabb, Dale Underwood, Heidi Ratke, and the Fuego Quartet.  


Andrew McGowan is a contemporary performing artist, originally from Macomb Illinois, who primarily works in the medium of Western Art Music. Across his portfolio career he has spent time curating wardrobes for doctors and lawyers and repairing instruments for major symphony musicians, but now spends his time composing, performing, and teaching.

In his solo projects he strives to curate stirring, contemplative performances favoring works by living artists and his own works for tuba and euphonium—which often involve fixed media, live electronic processing, atypical extended techniques, and omni-idiomatic improvisation.

His compositions feature works for ensembles of all sizes and styles but favor a neo-impressionist and post-minimalist flavor influenced by Bjork, Queen, Muse, Daft Punk, and Dubstep. This fusion of contemporary and ancient techniques utilizes sounds foreign to the concert hall in order to explore how the instrumentarium interacts with irregular rhythmic patterns, nature, and processed sounds.

In his down time Andrew enjoys yoga, comedy, reading, sports, exploring visual art, and being outdoors.



Lorraine Montana is currently a candidate for a Master of Music degree in Trombone Performance and Literature at the University of Illinois where she is studying with Douglas Yeo and is a member of the Illinois Wind Symphony. Lorraine is also a graduate assistant with the University of Illinois Bands/Marching Illini & Athletic Bands. Lorraine received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Maryland where she studied trombone with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Trombone Aaron LaVere. While at the University of Maryland, Lorraine played with the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Pep Band, The Mighty Sound of Maryland Marching Band, and was named to the 2020 CBDNA Eastern Intercollegiate Band.









Luke Yoakam is currently a candidate for a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Trumpet Performance and Literature at the University of Illinois.