Sharing a Passion: Kelly Bushouse


Some students play one instrument and participate in band. Junior Kelly Bushouse plays three instruments and is in three different ensembles. Music is one of Bushouse’s top priorities, taking up most of her free time when she is not in school. She has loved music since elementary school, and hopes to continue her talent through college and beyond.

“I am a drum major for the competitive and noncompetitive marching bands, I am in symphonic wind ensemble which is our top concert ensemble, I’m in jazz ensemble one which is the top jazz ensemble and I also do pep band during the basketball season,” Bushouse said.

As one of three drum majors, Bushouse led the marching band to a state championship last fall. The position requires responsible leadership to oversee such a big group, but Bushouse is fit for the role.

“We’re kind of like the caretakers of the band so we’re the leaders of leadership,” Bushouse said. “We teach people how to be good leaders. Part of our job is to make sure everyone in band is having a positive experience because we want it to be like a family atmosphere. If anyone’s unhappy we want to fix that so they can have as productive of rehearsal as possible.”

Junior Robert Viazzoli, who is one of the other drum majors, works with Bushouse almost everyday. To supervise the band effectively, they must divide the responsibility.

“Kelly and I split responsibilities fifty-fifty as much as possible,” Viazzoli said. “I think the better question is how much time do we not spend working together. During the CMB [competitive marching band] season, we’re together anywhere from eight and a half to eighteen and a half hours from rehearsals to literal days together when we’re competing. We spend a lot of time outside of rehearsal organizing and practicing and discussing how we can help the band too.”

Because they spend so much time working together, Viazzoli is familiar with Bushouse’s talent and commitment to music. They are also aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Kelly and I are similar in that we both love serving the band and we love leading and music in general,” Viazzoli said. “We appreciate the opportunity to serve as drum majors and give it our all everyday.”

Even though Viazzoli is an accomplished musician himself, he recognizes Bushouse’s impressive character and skill.

“We’re different in that she’s much more talented than me,” Viazzoli said. “She has this raw talent, admiration, and adoration for music that I hope to have. We’re also different in our ability to help others with music. Kelly is an amazing flutist and can play the heck out of anything she wants to. I tend to focus more on rhythmic accuracy but try to make more musical comments too.”

Despite her own individual talent, Bushouse is ultimately focused on whichever ensemble she is playing in, prioritizing the group’s success.

“It definitely is [stressful being a drum major] because a lot of them are dependent on you but it’s ultimately rewarding in the end,” Bushouse said.

This school year, the BV West marching band brought home a first place finish at state. To Bushouse, winning the state competition justified all of the work the group had put in.

“The three of us got to stand up there and be representatives of our band,” Bushouse said. “It was so amazing how proud we were of our whole band because we knew how much work we had put in and how far we had come from last season. These are all people we care about and we helped them get to this point.”

On top of leading the marching band with the school, Bushouse also competes individually and in small ensembles.

“We have solo and ensemble competitions where students can take either a solo piece or a piece with an ensemble of three to five people,” Bushouse said. “That’s something you do completely out of the school day and you work with an accompanist and a lessons teacher. You go to contests and you get judged individually.”

The competitors receive a rating on a scale of one to three, one being the best. A couple weeks ago, Bushouse performed her solo. She knows that all of her practice will pay off in the rating she receives.

“That’s another case where its putting your heart into something and working on it constantly,” Bushouse said. “I’ve been working on my solo for four to five months now so it takes a lot out of you but when you get that rating and you perform your best it’s always worth it.”

BV West’s band teacher, Cheryl Lee, has seen Bushouse’s talent emerge and develop longer than most people have.

“She is very independent,” Lee said. “I actually started teaching her flute lessons in seventh grade. I worked with her once a week for private lessons for her seventh and eighth grade and part of her 9th grade year. She doesn’t need my help anymore.”

Lee and Bushouse’s relationship is unlike most other students because of the time they have spent working together. Lee has seen Bushouse transition from a student to a leader.

“It’s a unique situation since I got to see her before I started teaching all the other kids here so I feel a little more big sistery to her,” Lee. “She’s progressed. She’s already far exceeded my expectations and she’s only a junior. It’s been very exciting to see what she can do and I’m very proud of her.”

Lee also sees Bushouse everyday of the school year, teaching her in blocks one, three, and four. She is very familiar with the dedication and passion Bushouse has for music.

“She pretty much goes above and beyond in everything,” Lee said. “She does all the honor band stuff she can. Any honor band position, whether it requires an audition or that she spends part of her summer to do it, she does that and she usually places near the top of those. She’s done solo and ensemble every year. That’s just her going above and beyond.”

After high school, Bushouse plans to continue going “above and beyond.” In fact, she has known her future in music since she was in elementary school.

“I made that decision myself,” Bushouse said. “I have an older sister who is five years older than me. Her freshman year my parents took me to every single marching competition and that was what really drew me into band. Starting in fourth grade I knew I wanted to be part of band for at least part of my life and I wanted to be a drum major. I’ve wanted that for like seven years.”

Bushouse will join her family’s legacy of musicians. Her parents met through their high school band. Her grandfather is a former french horn professor at the University of Kansas. Her step grandmother was a choir director.

“Music is in my blood,” Bushouse said.

Her connection to music has driven her desire to pass on her passion. Bushouse hopes to inspire and teach like-minded musicians. After college, she wants to be a band teacher.

“I want to teach people,” Bushouse said. “I want to help people love music the way I do and give people a place where they can come and realize this thing can be your family. It doesn’t have to be your whole life but it can be a place where you can feel like you’re accepted no matter where you come from.”

Bushouse speaks from experience. Her unfaltering investment in every band she plays in has produced her talent and skill, a talent she plans on taking advantage of in the future.

“It’s amazing,” Lee said. “She is extremely diverse. She’ll be a great teacher. She’ll be a very good performer. Whichever one of those she decides to do. I expect to compete against her band someday in the future and be scared that they’ll beat me.”