Degrees Available

Bachelor of Music in Performance • Master of Music in Performance • Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance

  • For more information on degrees, ensembles, summer session, study abroad, and complete curricular handbooks, visit our Academics Page.
  • To apply to the Bienen School of Music, visit our Admission Page.

Woodwinds at the Bienen School of Music

The woodwinds program of Northwestern University has a long and distinguished history. Since its beginnings in the 1950s, the program focal point has been an outstanding faculty, many of whom have also been affiliated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Each member is dedicated not only to the development of each student, but also to post-graduation success. Graduates of the program can be found in the New York Philharmonic, the Boston, San Francisco and Chicago Symphonies, and the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as in orchestras worldwide and in important positions in higher education.

Henoch coaching a studentHallmarks of the woodwinds program are the nurturing of the unique talents and abilities of each student and a great deal of individual attention.  Students are offered as complete an experience as possible, achieved through ensemble performance, instruction in the intricacies of each instrument, and valuable information about the complexities of a career in music. Students also benefit from Northwestern’s close proximity to the city of Chicago. Visiting artists frequently come to campus, offering master classes and other instruction, and the myriad of performances by the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Ravinia Festival and other outstanding organizations create learning opportunities outside the classroom.

With a decades-long affiliation with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the vast resources of a major research university, and an outstanding placement record, the woodwinds program offers opportunities that are unmatched.

All doctoral students receive a full tuition scholarship and a work stipend.

Program Curriculum

Students may pursue the bachelor and master of music degrees and the doctor of musical arts degree. They receive an education targeted toward a variety of career areas, including an orchestral career, a career in teaching, and other options. In addition to weekly private lessons, there are weekly studio classes that provide students with opportunities to perform with and for their colleagues, to learn in a group setting about the fundamentals of their instruments, about varied options in the music business, and from guest artists.

Each studio also offers classes on various auxiliary instruments, something that is highly valuable with regard to future career development. Samplings are as follows:

  • Flute -  piccolo and baroque flute
  • Oboe - English horn study and reed making
  • Clarinet - bass clarinet, orchestral excerpts, reed making
  • Bassoon  - Reed making, instrument repair and maintenance
  • Saxophone - work on all saxophones, technique classes

Open to all students are classes and seminars in Alexander technique and many other less traditional and non-music aspects of building a career.


Ensemble participation is an integral part of the wind experience at Northwestern.  The ensembles comprise the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, Symphonic Band, and the Contemporary Music Ensemble. All wind students audition for entrance each quarter. Every attempt is made to rotate each student through the various groups for a complete ensemble experience.

Chamber music groupChamber Music

The faculty believes that participation in chamber music is key to success on one’s instrument. They and many outstanding area musicians serve as coaches for woodwind quintets, other wind combinations, and mixed ensembles including piano and strings.

Guest Master Classes

Northwestern frequently hosts distinguished artists who offer master classes for students. Recent guests have included oboists Robert Sheena and Nicholas Daniel; clarinetists Eddie Daniels and Karl Leister; bassoonist Milan Turkovic; and saxophonist Claude Delangle. There is also an active program of two-way broadcast master classes, whereby students receive instruction from master teachers in other locations.

Distinguished Alumni


  • Louise Dixon, Chicago Symphony (retired)
  • Zart Dombourian-Eby, Seattle Symphony
  • Linda Lukas, San Francisco Symphony


  • Michael Henoch, Chicago Symphony
  • Robert Sheena, Boston Symphony
  • Sherry Sylar, New York Philharmonic
  • Russ Deluna, San Francisco Symphony


  • Mark Nuccio, Houston Symphony
  • Craig Nordstrom, Boston Symphony
  • Gregory Smith, Chicago Symphony


  • Jonathan Sherwin, Cleveland Orchestra
  • Chris Marshall, Minnesota Orchestra
  • Felicia Foland, St. Louis Symphony
  • Gareth Thomas, Cleveland Orchestra


  • Debra Richtmeyer, University of Illinois
  • David Sanborn, international performing and recording artist
  • John Sampen, Bowling Green State University, Ohio
  • Kyle Horch, Royal College of Music, London, England

Experience music from the Woodwinds program by searching our Davee Media Library for performances, master classes, and much more!


Request information from the Bienen School of Music.