Russ Ballenger

Trombonist and Educator


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Dr. Russell Ballenger is a freelancing trombonist and educator in Houston, Texas. Prior to living in Houston, he taught low brass and directed the Jazz Ensembleat the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Russ instructed a wide variety of courses including Introduction to Music, Orchestration and Arranging, Music History I and II, Jazz History and Methods, Sight-Singing/Ear Training III and IV, The Beatles, Beginning Improvisation, and Applied Improvisation. As coordinator of the annual University of Mary Jazz Festival, Russ and the UMary Jazz Ensemble have shared the stage with renowned guest artists including Dave Douglas, Matt Wilson, Terell Stafford, Ulysses Owens Jr., Alex Iles, Donny McCaslin, Joey Tartell, Glenn Kostur, Jay Ashby, and Matt Harris. He has presented as a clinician the National Association for Music Education Conference, Minnesota Music Educators Conference, and South Dakota Music Educators Conference, and at such prestigious institutions as Boise State, West Texas A&M, Brandon, and Indiana Universities.

An active proponent of commissioning new works for the trombone, Russ commissioned, premiered, and recorded “Glint” for unaccompanied trombone by Dr. Lisa Bost-Sandberg. “Glint” was selected as the winner of the 2016 American Trombone Workshop’s composition competition and was performed by Russ at the 2016 American Trombone Workshop in Washington, D.C. Also an active member of the International Trombone Association, he performed on bass trombone as a member of the Cramer Trombone Choir at the 2016 ITA Festival in New York City, NY. Russ is a frequent contributor to the ITA journal, for which he has written several literature reviews for publication.

Russ has performed with the Amarillo Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, Tuscaloosa Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, and the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Four Tops and in the National Broadway tour of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical!” Russ has taught jazz trombone and directed student big bands at the International Music Camp, and has also been the clinician for the jazz band music reading session as part of the annual JW Pepper New Sounds Music Reading Sessions in Bismarck, ND.

Russ holds degrees in trombone performance from Indiana University (BM), the University of New Mexico (MM), and the University of Alabama (DMA). While attending both the University of New Mexico and the University of Alabama, he served as Graduate Assistant in Jazz Studies. Dr. Ballenger’s primary teachers include Peter Ellefson, Karl Hinterbichler and Jonathan Whitaker with additional studies with Ian Bousfield, Debbie Taylor, Alex Iles, Ralph Sauer and Michael Mulcahy.

Russ Ballenger is a Yamaha Performing Artist.