Ryan Little

Northwestern BM’15 (Naples Philharmonic – Principal Horn) 

I was very fortunate to start my studies at Northwestern at the exact same time that Jon began teaching there! One of the many aspects that I appreciated so much was how well Jon’s teaching methods worked alongside what I was learning from Gail Williams. Gail and Jon have so much mutual respect for each other, (both as performers and as teachers) and it really makes for an incredible combination. We would usually have around one lesson a month with Jon, and it was always so helpful to add his perspective to what I was learning and practicing on the horn. Outside of our lessons, I had so much extra time with Jon because of his weekly excerpt class and also having him coach our horn quartet as part of the chamber music curriculum. Also, during my senior year I was able to take his Wagner Tuba class during the spring quarter, which was literally one of the most practical courses I’ve ever taken. When the Houston Grand Opera asked if I could lead the Wagner Tuba section for their production of Götterdämmerung while I was in grad school at Rice, I felt so comfortable accepting their offer because of my experience in Jon’s class.

No matter what his schedule was like at the opera, he always dedicated himself 100% to helping us find ways to perform at our best, and I’ll never forget the many practical things that I learned from him in my four years at NU. Jon was always so willing to help us see performances at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and getting to hear him play some incredible Dvořák, Strauss, and Wagner works was truly life-changing. I also had the pleasure of being invited to join his horn section at the Grant Park Music Festival recently, and watching and hearing him lead the horn section firsthand was one of the best experiences of my career and really brought my Jon Boen education full circle. It really is no surprise that Jon’s students have had so much success, and I owe much of my career to what I learned from him.