Leighton Solomon: The life of a drum line leader



Seven and a half hours a week of thunderous tunes and high pitched chimes, would drive a lot of people insane, but Leighton Solomon finds more tranquility in it than most would. Having been in band since middle school, the current junior doesn’t mind working hard.

“I am in drum line and jazz band,” Solomon said. “Freshman year is when I technically started drum line and it’s been really hard. We have practice almost every day, except for Sunday, so it takes up a lot of my time, but it’s worth it.”

The hard work and dedication does not  just start with the school year, it’s almost year round.

“Over the summer we practiced every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the evening,” Solomon said. “Once school starts it’s a three hour rehearsal on Monday after school; then an hour and a half on Tuesday, and every morning Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; for about an hour.”

Leighton spends hours dedicating his time to rehearsing with the band and is a leader to the drum line members.

“Joe Ralston and I are the oldest guys on the drum line,” Solomon said. “So we have to be the leaders. We mainly work with the  freshman helping them get up to speed.”

Compared to last year, this season has been a lot more difficult for the two drum line veterans.

“This is probably our hardest year in a long time,” Solomon said. “Last year was incredible. We went to PASIC, which is the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. We placed eighth in the country. Most that were a part of it last year aren’t with us anymore so now we’re just very inexperienced.”

Besides drum line, Leighton is involved in other activities within the band program.

“I am also involved in Jazz Band,” Solomon said. “It’s mostly horns, trumpets, trombones and other various instruments such as piano, guitar, and drums, which I play. Jazz Band takes up much less time than drum line. The only time we really practice is in class, but we do have several gigs, mostly second semester. It’s a bit of work, but it’s worth it in the long run.”

The extracurricular activities aren’t the only thing that takes up his time.

“I’m taking all AP classes,” Solomon said. “It is hard, and that is probably a reason why a lot of people quit drum line because it’s so stressful. Taking AP classes means that  there’s not much time to do my homework on top of band practice, but I manage to keep a high GPA.”

Even though drum line, jazz band, and school take up most of Leighton’s time music has always been a part of his life.

“I have been a musician all my life, but I didn’t start playing drums until middle school,” Solomon said. “I knew I wanted to do something else in music so I decided to join band. I scored well on a percussion test, so I decided that is what I wanted to do.”

Drums aren’t the only instruments that strike his interest though.

“I play guitar, piano, and then drum set and drum line,” Solomon said. “Being a percussionist means that you play a lot of instruments.  There’s also marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, and a lot of other percussive instruments. I also make my own music. I make electronic music, on my computer, which has become a labor of love and one of my favorite pastimes.”

Learning how to play the instruments required lessons, and self-preparations.

“For piano I took a year of lessons then I decided I didn’t like it and I wanted to try to teach myself,” Solomon said. “For guitar I took two years of lessons and from then on I was self taught. And for drums, I have always had lessons, because I started that in school. But for the most part I’m still self-taught, other than drums.”

Even though his life is really busy, he still finds time to do things any normal teen would.

“99% of my time is school and drum line,” Solomon said. “But in the little bit of free time I have; I will make music, play video games, and browse the internet. What any other normal teenager does.”