Scotty Fleming ’10: Drummer, Pianist and Conductor

Scotty Fleming ’10 began playing piano and drumming in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has been a part of Drumline since freshmen year and is the conductor for Unaccompanied Minors this year. Fleming took time out of his Sunday before an Unaccompanied Minors rehearsal to talk to The Phillipian about his musical gifts. Q: When and how did you start playing the piano? A: I started playing the piano when I was four or five…with my sisters. They would put me in their laps and teach me. Later, I started taking formal lessons. I’ve taken lessons ever since I was four to till now. But I have never been intensely serious…Music for me has been more of a hobby to share as opposed to something to compete with. Art as a competition just doesn’t sit with me well. For me music has been more an expression of self. Q: How did you begin playing drums as well? A: I started drums when I was in seventh grade. There was a kid sitting next to me in math class, and he was trying to read music…He said to me, “Hey, can you read this?” I said, “Yeah!” and I started to tap it out, and he said to me, “You should try out for Drumline.” I was like, “Okay, if you really want me to.” I’ve been playing [the drums] from seventh grade to now. Q: Do you have musical background in your family? A: No, my mom and dad made us all pick up an instrument, but both my parents are absolutely awful at music. We always try to sing with our dad, and he can’t sing at all…But in terms of my siblings, I’ll go home and I’ll play the drum set, and my brother will play the synthesizer. Q: How was Drumline in Salt Lake City different from Drumline at Phillips Academy? A: I started competing with Drumline [in Salt Lake City]. First we did parades…Once we got enough attention from the school, we started pushing for indoor Drumline, [in which] you set up an entire show…We would compete against other schools in Salt Lake…[We] would have to move on the ground…and make all sorts of cool images. The Drumline when I came here was two snares and a couple of basses, and they would get together the night before the pep rally and just make something up. Personally I think [Drumline] should move towards competing. Q: As the conductor for Unaccompanied Minors, I imagine it must be challenging to coordinate the various sections of the orchestra and the individual instruments. How are you capable of synchronizing the entire group? A: Well, a background in percussion really helps…I have never conducted before this year. I think you do have to understand the instruments, but, more importantly, you have to understand the music as an entire piece, for example, understanding the conversation between two instruments…or what part an instrument plays in a piece. I love interpreting music and feeling it. Q: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to? A: I am one of those kids who loves…classical music – half my playlist is classical music. I used to do my homework to Mozart’s “Requiem,” which would drive my mom crazy, because I listened to it over and over again. Now I am taking music theory, which is awesome! Now I can really put my finger on what I hear and have a name for it. Q: What would you do if you had more time for music here at school? A: Last year I tried to give private lessons to all the kids in Drumline, because there is no instructor…So if I had more time I would give private lessons to every kid on Drumline, and I would have more [rehearsals] with UM. But academics do come first here. Q: Would you consider conducting or composing later on in your life? A: Maybe, certainly not as a job, but as a hobby. I would love to conduct a Drumline for a local high school…once a week, twice a week, three times a week, every day. I love teaching music.