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Balancing Musical Notes and Study Notes

Sophomore Nuclear Engineering Student Finds Balance in Pursuit of Passions

Christopher Busch in UT Pride of the Southland Band marching uniform.Nuclear Engineering sophomore Christopher Busch is not just at UT to pursue his passion for clean energy—he’s also here to make (sound) waves as a member of Pride of the Southland Marching Band with his mellophone (the marching band term for the French horn because of the way it’s held), which he has played for six years.

Originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina, once he landed on nuclear engineering as his major, UT jumped to the top of his list.

“After one visit and a football game I was hooked,” he said. The chance to be in one of the most respected marching bands in the US sealed the deal.

As an out-of-state student, Busch has found being connected to others through the marching band has given him a new home base. Furthermore, the band includes many other engineering students, an additional bonus for making friends with shared interests.

“It is a pleasure to have Chris and other engineering students be a part of the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band. Obviously, the discipline, time management, and hard work ethics of the band carry over into their professional lives!” said Don Ryder, director of bands.

College has definitely expanded Busch’s world. In high school, his marching band had one section with eight horns, and now he’s one of 40.

“Band offers a great community,” he said. “People come from all over and feel like they are part of a family.”

Being involved in marching band also means developing strong personal discipline around study habits, especially in the fall when football season hits. Being an engineering student is a heavy load by itself, and Busch knows he has to stay ahead of the curve to keep up with studies while attending practice and traveling for games.

During the season, I have to schedule myself. I try to stay a half to a whole week ahead just in case I get bogged down with excess practicing or if something unexpected comes up.”

—Christopher Busch

Sometimes he has to resort to cramming, but with discipline, he’s never less than two to three days ahead of his syllabus.

He has taken the advice of professional engineering advisor Amanda Lovelace, who encourages marching band students to take the harder engineering courses in the spring.

When traveling, the long hours on the road require him to take at least one day off school. The band generally gets back on Sundays before starting fresh for a new week. “Everyone says you can study on the bus, but really it’s too hard,” he said.

For Busch, it’s a small price to pay to adapt to the college environment and difficulty of classes so he can pursue his love of music.

“If you have a test that’s going on while you’re gone, it’s best to take it before you leave, not after you get back,” he said.

Busch’s study tips are applicable to any student wishing to make the most of their time at UT. Being disciplined means he’s better able to gauge his own productivity—he now knows he is more efficient in the middle of the day. He also makes sure to get six-to-eight hours of sleep per night. His favorite place to study on campus is the library, but he always plans gaps during the day to do homework wherever he happens to be.

Élan Young: