You might have spotted him in the orchestra pit at Spokane Civic Theatre or Lake City Playhouse.
If you’re traveling during the holidays you might see him at Spokane International Airport.
Or, if you’re taking the family to meet Santa at the Southside Community Center on Dec. 17, you’ll find him there.
Taylor Belote is a drummer in demand. The instrumental director at Rogers High School started playing percussion while attending Garry Middle School and his drumsticks haven’t skipped a beat since.
“I knew from the moment I fell in love with music, it would always be part of my life,” he said.
Belote has enjoyed being in the orchestra pit for countless musical productions. He’ll be playing for Spokane Valley Summer Theatre’s “A Big Band Christmas” Dec. 16-18 and is currently playing for “A Christmas Story” at University High School.
“What I love about theater is that every show is different,” Belote said.
Wanting to share the joy he’s found in music, he attended Whitworth University, majoring in instrumental music and earning a master’s in teaching. He taught in Deer Park for eight years before returning to his alma mater.
He learned to play steel drums as a high school student and now, in addition to his teaching duties, he leads the after-school steel drum club.
“Fifteen years after graduation, I’m in charge of the music program that grew me,” Belote said. “I’m here because I love music. I can’t imagine going a day without it, and now I get to help kids love it, too.”
He met his wife, Amanda, in percussion class at Rogers. The couple has three kids and Amanda coaches the dance team at the school.
“Rogers is such a good place to be,” Belote said. “So many teachers are alums.”
He bought his first set of steel drums after graduating from high school.
“As a drummer, I played in lots of different bands, but I wondered what I could do as a solo artist.”
He found the answer in the steel pans; what he enjoys most about the instruments is the creative release it offers.
“It’s a melodic outlet,” he said. “As a drummer, you’re not playing melody.”
Though the music originated in Trinidad and Tobago, Belote said you can play any kind of music on them.
“While Calypso is common, you can play everything from ABBA to AC/DC, and of course, Christmas tunes.”
That’s what he’ll be playing at his airport gig in the rotunda next to Starbucks during peak travel times. Belote said music helps lighten the stress of holiday travel.
It’s also a given he’ll be playing Christmas music at the Southside Santa Breakfast, where he’s been the featured musician for several years.
“It’s a great event,” he said. “I’ll be playing sacred and secular tunes and the iconic carols.”
Chances are he’ll be grinning while he plays.
“The steel drum has such a bright tone,” Belote said. “It makes everybody happy. It’s like riding a Jet Ski; you can’t do it without a smile on your face.”
Article by Cindy Hval
Photo by Jesse Tinsley