Department of Music


Missouri Western State University offers one of the most prestigious and comprehensive undergraduate brass training programs in the Midwest. Comprised of an international award-winning faculty, Dr. Lee Harrelson, Natalie Higgins, and Steve Molloy enhance the learning environment with their abundance of professional performance and education experiences. These artists have performed as soloists with symphony orchestras, wind ensembles, brass bands and jazz bands, won numerous large ensemble and chamber competitions, and have even performed with popular music artists such as Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole. They hold a combined seven degrees, and remain active in Missouri’s college and secondary circuit. Aside from their versatility, these Missouri Western State University Brass Professors strive to create an open platform for creativity and entrepreneurship, having set the example in founding such non-profit organizations as the Fountain City Brass Band, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, and the Kansas City Horn Club.

Missouri Western State University provides numerous performance and collaboration opportunities for music majors, minors, and non-majors. While receiving private brass instruction, students may participate in Missouri Western’s orchestra, symphonic winds, marching band, jazz ensembles and combos, brass choir, and chamber ensembles such as brass quintets and quartets. In addition to these ensembles, select students are granted the opportunity to perform with area and regional groups, including the Fountain City Brass Band and Youth Band, Thunder All-Star Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, the Kansas City Horn Club Cor Ensemble, and regional big bands.

Our goal as a department is to provide our students with more than an education in brass pedagogy and performance by establishing a positive learning environment that fosters creativity, instills strong work ethics, and promotes effective time management and entrepreneurial skills. Students will gain experience working with other musicians, networking, building a professional resume, and will form lasting connections with other students and professionals. They’ll also be equipped with a valuable set of life skills that will prepare them for any career they embark upon. The objective for our valued brass students is an earned music degree that indicates its recipient is not only a musician, but also a creative and successful young professional.

Graduates of the Missouri Western State University Brass Department have made significant accomplishments. Several of these students have gone on to top tier masters programs, received job placements in music education, and have been Music Teacher National Associate Collegiate Artist Brass Winners and Missouri Music Educators Association soloist competition winners.

Brass players are in demand at Missouri Western and scholarship money is available for prospective music major, minors, and non-majors.


Brass Faculty: Dr. Lee Harrelson, Dr. Nate Gay, Natalie Higgins, & Stephen Molloy