Senior Payton Yaffe demonstrates his passion for music through his work as a percussionist


Nya Owusu-Afriyie

Senior Payton Yaffe executes his snare drumming technique and shows off his skills. As the percussion captain, Yaffe devotes his time to rehearsals for indoor percussion competitions and strives to lead his team to be the greatest.

Briana Martin, Writer

Senior Payton Yaffe is a devoted musician and member of MSD’s Eagle Regiment marching band. His progression throughout the years shows his unwavering dedication to improve his skills as a percussionist. What began as a hobby in third grade, playing music has since flourished into years of accomplishments in music, both in and outside of school.

With some encouragement from his father, Yaffe started playing the drums after joining his middle school band. Once he began high school, he transitioned into MSD’s marching band program and his love for the percussion section grew. The mentor for the entire percussion section, Jed Davis, believes that Yaffe is a strong percussionist with great potential.

In band, most of his most memorable moments come from winning at competitions and knowing his hard work had paid off. During Yaffe’s freshman and senior year, the Eagle Regiment won the state championship title.

“Watching everyone’s excitement and everyone jumping around when we had won and every single person in the band screaming when they called our name for first place is a feeling I will never forget,” Yaffe said

In the many years he has spent in band, Yaffe has experimented with numerous instruments. In the percussion section, his favorite is the vibraphone because of its unique sound. His main instrument, however, is the snare drum he plays in the drumline.

In addition to his rigorous rehearsal schedule at school, ranging from eight to 16 hours a week, Yaffe participates in STRYKE Percussion, a world-class indoor percussion group. As a part of this elite group of percussionists, he competes and performs at many competitions against top percussion ensembles across the country.

One of Yaffe’s most treasured accomplishments is making the STRYKE Percussion World snareline. After years of effort poured into his music, he was approached after auditions and informed he was chosen and had finally achieved his long-time goal.

Yaffe’s achievements are the product of a great support system of friends and family. He is inspired by his favorite musicians and drummers, such as Neil Peart from a band called Rush, and his personal instructor Gio Pagliaro.

“Having seen [Pagliaro’s] success within drumming through videos inspires me to reach a level that would surpass him,” Yaffe said. “His approach to everything he does has influenced me to become more like him and to try to become a better person, in addition to drumming.”

Like many musicians, stage fright is an obstacle that Yaffe must overcome before each performance. Throughout the years, he has created a ritual of channeling his nerves into concentrating on the performance and giving it his all.

“Still to this day, I get nervous before any sort of performance, big or small,” Yaffe said. “I’ve learned how to calm myself and focus on what my role is for the performance, whether it be to help set up or even just walk onto the football field and do the performance.”

While juggling extracurriculars and school, Yaffe recognizes the importance of relaxing and enjoying the feeling of creating music without overwhelming himself, as well as maintaining a focus on both his extracurricular and academic goals.

“Since I’m a senior in the Eagle Regiment, there’s pressure for me to work the hardest in the percussion section,” Yaffe said. “A lot of the time, I’ll watch YouTube videos of some of the top groups in the world and it helps to remind me of the goal I’m trying to achieve.”

The pressure put on him allows Yaffe to gain the experience and mindset he needs to use in his later life. The skills he learned during his time in the high school band allows him to deal with various stresses of adulthood and higher-level education.

In the future, Yaffe hopes to study information systems in college and continue to help out the future generations of the Eagle Regiment as an instructor.