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Music a ‘Rush’ for McAuley senior

Therese Bueno Mother McAuley says there's no better experience than being stage singing playing as member band.  |

Therese Bueno, of Mother McAuley, says there's no better experience than being on stage singing and playing as a member of a band. | Supplied photo by Nancy Lynch

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Updated: January 10, 2014 6:14AM



Therese Bueno started playing the piano at age 6. Today, at 17, she plays five instruments: the piano, guitar, ukulele, harmonica and drums, and lives the dream of many a teenager — playing in a band and getting paid.

That’s a big change from her early years, when practicing the piano was drudgery.

“My mom thought it would be beneficial for my intellectual growth, and in the beginning I hated practicing piano,” Bueno said.

But as time went on, that changed.

“I started loving it and played songs I heard every day. I started playing for my community and that’s when I started loving it because I was giving something back,” she said.

As Bueno got older, she began playing other instruments. She took guitar lessons and taught herself the ukulele and harmonica. In fifth grade, she joined the school band and played the trumpet.

Then Bueno, now a senior at Mother McAuley High School in Chicago, began writing her own pop songs. She now describes herself as a singer/songwriter.

Between her freshman and sophomore years of high school, her private music instructor placed her in a group with three other girls, encouraging the students to learn to play together vs. solo.

“I signed up for the program over the summer because I wanted to try something new,” Bueno said.

It was a new experience all right. What started out as a classroom assignment turned into something much more.

“We would learn the songs I wrote together. At first, we would play in the community for public shows, but then it got to the point where we were requested to play at other events,” she said.

They named the all-girl band Sugar Rush, which features, in addition to Bueno, Jamie Rago, Payton Orozco and Jane Folliard.

“We got paid but we’d play mostly for fun,” Bueno said.

Lately, they’ve been getting paid more and more. In fact, the band performed at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield the day after it played at the state finals for Battle of the Bands, where they landed in the top five of bands in the state. Two other gigs were booked after the state fair.

“I really love sharing the experience with my other band members. When we play together, it becomes something more. Especially when we play the music I’ve written,” Bueno said. “We come together and become something greater. When you’re up there and you’re playing on stage, it is the best experience in the world. I feel so alive and I feel heard. There’s no better experience when I’m on stage playing and singing. That moment is mine and that moment is ours.”

Bueno said her parents, Ted and Marichu Bueno, of Orland Park, are her mentors.

“I really feel like my parents have guided me in life. They’ve always taught me that there’s nothing I can’t do. I can do anything as long as I put my mind to it,” she said.

At school, she plays in the orchestra pit for the all-school play and is a member of chorus, National Honor Society, Catherine Honor Scholars (which recognizes students who rank in the top 10 percent of the student body), student council and Liturgical Ensemble. She also sings in Mother McAuley’s a cappella group. On weekends, she plays the piano for the Sisters of Mercy Masses at Mother McAuley.

Bueno plans to keep music a hobby and not a career. She is considering a career in medicine.

“My parents are both nurses and they work in a nursing home where I help out there with the residents,” she said. “I was inspired with how they took care of the residents there and the compassion that they show. No one in my family is a doctor and because they said there’s nothing I can’t do, I’d like to be the first one and be a doctor.

“I think what keeps me motivated is the support that my family gives me. It encourages me to go forward. I want to make them proud. The belief that I can do anything as long as I put my mind to it is another motivator.”

These days, Sugar Rush performs as the girls’ schedules allow. To learn more about the band, visit The Sugar Rush page on Facebook.



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