Director of Bands
Kerry Taylor currently serves as Director of Bands for Westlake High School-Eanes ISD and Fine Arts Director of Eanes ISD. Mr. Taylor is in his 39th year as a band director in the Texas public schools. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree and a Master of Music Degree, both from the University of Texas at Austin.
Under Mr. Taylor's direction, the Westlake Band has won or placed highly in numerous concert band and marching festivals, including 32 consecutive UIL Sweepstakes Awards. The Westlake Wind Ensemble has performed twice at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, four times in Carnegie Hall and once each for the American Bandmasters Association and the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. In 1999, the John Philip Sousa Foundation presented the Westlake Band with the “Sudler Flag of Honor” for excellence in concert band and in 2011 the “Sudler Shield” for marching band excellence. The Westlake Chaparral Marching Band has performed twice (2003 and 2017) in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. In 2017, the Westlake program was recognized by Phi Beta Mu International Band Fraternity as a “Program of Distinction.”
Mr. Taylor is active as a clinician and adjudicator in Texas and across the US. He is a Past-President of the Texas Music Educators Association and currently serves as President-Elect for the American Bandmasters Association. He has been recognized by the University Interscholastic League with the Sponsor of Excellence Award, the John Philip Sousa Foundation as a Legion of Honor Laureate and the Texas Bandmasters Association with the Meritorious Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music Education. He and his wife Valerie, a long-time educator in Eanes ISD and a current PhD candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas, are the proud parents of two sons; Brian, a DMA candidate at Michigan State University and Sean, a recent graduate of the University of Dallas.
Assistant Director of Bands
Taylor LaPrairie currently serves as Assistant Director of Bands at Westlake High School in Austin, TX. Mr. LaPrairie instructs the Westlake Chaparral Marching Band, directs the Symphonic Band and Concert Band, and teaches beginning guitar classes. Mr. LaPrairie started teaching in Eanes ISD in 2019 as the Assistant Director of Bands at West Ridge Middle School before joining the high school staff in 2020.
Mr. LaPrairie graduated from Michigan State University where he received his bachelor's degree in Music Education. While at Michigan State, Mr. LaPrairie performed with numerous concert ensembles, including the MSU Wind Symphony. He can be heard on 3 professional recordings by the Wind Symphony and was a part of the ensemble’s 2017 performance at the CBDNA National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. He also served as an instructor for the Spartan Youth Wind Symphony (SYWS), serving as a brass instructor and conductor of the SYWS Brass Choir. He was a member of the Honors Brass Quintet program from 2014-2018 and was awarded the Ruth Mistele Trombone Award in 2016, 2017, and 2018. He was also a member of the Spartan Marching Band, MSU Trombone Choir, and the MSU Chamber Winds.
Mr. LaPrairie has served as a brass instructor for the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps since 2018. Prior to joining the brass staff, Mr. LaPrairie marched baritone with Carolina Crown from 2014 to 2017. During his time with the corps, Mr. LaPrairie was the featured trombone soloist in 2016, baritone section leader in 2016 and 2017, was awarded the “Brass Member of the Year” in 2017 and served as the Horn Sergeant for the 2017 season.
Assistant Director of Bands
Mr. Pearson is a native of North Carolina where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. He served as Director of Bands at Speight Middle School in Wilson, NC from 2004-2006. While leading the Cougar Band Program, enrollment nearly doubled and a band booster organization was formed for the first time in program history.
Mr. Pearson served as Director of Bands at Clayton High School in Clayton, NC from 2006-2016. During his tenure at Clayton the program was considered one of the strongest in the state. Accomplishments include being a 6 time BOA Regional Finalist, WGI Regional and World Championship Finalists and Medalists in both Winter Guard and Concert Percussion. In 2013, the Percussion won the gold medal in Scholastic Concert Open class for the first time in school history.
In Fall of 2016, Mr. Pearson relocated to Texas where he became the Associate Director of Bands at Belton High School. During his 3 years at Belton, the band program showed growth in nearly all areas. All 4 Concert Bands earned sweepstakes at UIL Contest and Sight-Reading for the first time in the Spring of 2019. The Color Guard program grew from 18 members to 46 and were a two-time TCGC State Finalist in Scholastic A.
In Fall of 2019, Mr. Pearson accepted the assistant director of bands position at Dripping Springs High School. In his 3 years at DSHS Mr. Pearson led the Symphonic Band to sweepstakes at UIL and doubled the Jazz Orchestra creating a second full jazz ensemble for the first time in school history.
Mr. Pearson lives in Buda with his wife, Leigh Anne, and their two children, Brayden and Kensley, and their dog Stella.
Assistant Director of Bands
Ben Armeni is a percussion performer, arranger, and educator hailing from Flowery Branch, Georgia. Ben received his undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of North Texas, and recently earned a master's degree in Percussion Performance at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His primary musical instructors include Dave Hall, Christopher Deane, Paul Rennick, Mark Ford, Ed Smith, Jose Aponte, and Poovalur Sriji. Ben has years of experience teaching percussionists of all ages and backgrounds, from elementary school to college music majors.
Ben was a part of the front ensembles at Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps (2014) and the Santa Clara Vanguard (2015-2017) where he earned the Fred Sanford award for High Percussion in 2016 and 2017. He has since taught at the Guardians Drum and Bugle Corps (2019-2021) and is now on the percussion staff at the Bluecoats, where he won the Fred Sanford award in 2022.
Director of Color Guards, Elite Visual Ensemble
Kaysey Leigh Thompson is an active choreographer and color guard instructor hailing originally from from Boston, MA. Clients have included Carolina Crown, The Crossmen, The Madison Scouts, The Blue Knights, McNeil High School, Claudia Taylor Johnson High School, Origins Winterguard, Eklipse Winterguard, Paramount Winterguard, and Cedar Ridge High School, among others.
Kaysey began her dance and color guard training at 5 years old, performing with a local winterguard directed by her parents. In the years since, she has performed with several WGI and DCI groups including St. Ann’s World, SCV Winterguard, The Cadets and The Crossmen. Along with color guard, Kaysey has an extensive background in stage and film. Kaysey spent 15 years touring and performing with Blast!, Shockwave, and Blast: MIX, Blast: The Music of Disney and has appeared in projects with Walt Disney Studios, NBC, and Fox Television. Following a record breaking 2021-2022 season for the EVE programs, Ms Thompson is currently representing Westlake HS on the Advisory Board for Winter Guard International
Kaysey currently resides in Austin, TX. Since transitioning from a stage performer role, she holds a position on the choreographic and instructional team for Blast: The Music of Disney, in addition to acting as the Visual Ensemble supervisor.