Kelly Kelso

LCC provided pitch perfect start for trumpeter
photo of Kelly Kelso

The faculty were very involved ... they brought a sense of strength and direction to my growth.

After Kelly Kelso graduated from North Eugene High School in 2013, he knew he wanted to “get his feet under him” before moving on to a large university. Lane Community College proved to be the right place. Kelso has been accepted to the Masters of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media, trumpet emphasis, program at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, with a scholarship that will cover most of his tuition. 

Now 23, Kelso played trumpet in high school. His aspirations of attending a conservatory or similar school seemed realistic, but he wanted to gain more professional experience and theoretical knowledge to truly feel ready.

“I really loved Lane,” Kelso says. “It was very important in getting me where I am now. The faculty were very involved and a lot of them had experience doing the things I was interested in doing. They didn’t have any less of a standard than a bigger school so they brought a sense of strength and direction to my growth and they provided me with a lot of serious opportunities early in my music experience.”

After two years at Lane starting in fall 2013, Kelso transferred to the University of Northern Colorado, where he finished a bachelor’s of music in jazz studies. “The whole thing started at Lane,” Kelso says. An advisor at Lane, Barbara Myrick, had studied at Eastman. During Kelso’s first year at Lane, the school hosted the Oregon Jazz Fest with guest artist Shane Endsley, who earned a master’s from Eastman. Through Endsley and other mentors, Kelso discovered trumpeter and Eastman professor Clay Jenkins, who mentored Kelso and encouraged him to apply to Eastman.

Kelso submitted an audition tape and in November 2017 was selected over hundreds of other applicants for a live audition in February 2018. He received his acceptance letter in April. The school is providing two-thirds of his $36,000 yearly tuition in addition to a $1,200 stipend.

“I wouldn’t have gotten into the University of Northern Colorado or Eastman without the faculty at Lane,” Kelso says. “I owe pretty much everything to the people I worked with, Dave Bender, Hisao Watanabe, Paul Krueger, along with the other LCC faculty, for getting me into that program.”