Principal lives out music passion after school

October 13, 2009

By Christopher Huber

 Roy Adler, Pine Lake Middle School principal and drummer since age 13.

Roy Adler, Pine Lake Middle School principal and drummer since age 13.

For 13-year-old Roy Adler, growing up in New York in the 1960s, there was something about watching Ringo Starr and The Beatles rock out on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Adler just loved seeing the superstar drummer set the beat and jam with Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison.

He loved it so much that he built his own drum set out of cardboard boxes, sheet metal and dowel rods, and taught himself how to play along. In class, he would tap his pencil so much his teachers thought he was always nervous, he said.

“I just love to play,” Adler said. “It’s just something I thrive on.”At 15, he got a real drum set. Since then, he’s lived out his dream, playing in dozens of bands as a drummer.

Of course, Adler has a day job — he’s principal at Pine Lake Middle School — but he moonlights as the drummer for the Sammamish-based Ricky Venture Revue, a variety dance band.

The band’s founder, Sammamish resident Ricardo Buenaventura, brought Adler on board early in fall 2008 to replace the outgoing drummer. Adler said dozens auditioned, but Buenaventura saw something in the charismatic Adler.

“Roy has this wonderful, great attitude and it’s probably what makes him a good principal,” Buenaventura said.

A classic rocker to the core, Adler has played on the side for more than a dozen bands, he said, including the PLMS staff band, Staff Infection, which performs at the annual talent show.

“I’m ’60s all the way,” he said. “I was at the original Woodstock. That was the most amazing time for music.”

Adler has been a school principal since 1982, but has always managed to exercise his passion for drums and rock ’n’ roll music on the side. Being a middle school administrator is time consuming, he said, but after a few years, you work efficiently and have more time for outside hobbies.

“To do this job, you’ve got to have a life when you go home,” he said as he relaxed in his office chair after school at PLMS. “When I leave here, my work is done.”

The band plays a few gigs per month at Seattle-area clubs, events and private parties, and they don’t need to rehearse much, so striking a balance comes relatively easy for Adler.

“It makes me better at my day job, because you need something else in your life to help you focus” on your job, Adler said.

Adler’s involvement with various bands over the years has positively affected his relationships with school staffers, as well as students, he said. PLMS secretary Jan Bennett said she and her husband have attended all but two of Adler’s shows in the nine years she’s worked with him at the school.

“We followed him with the other two bands, but this one is really fun,” she said. “He’s so into it. And he just loves it. You can just tell he absolutely just loves what he’s doing.”

Bennett and Adler acknowledged that Adler being in a band makes him a more approachable figure around school. As many students might see their principal as an unfriendly stickler monitoring the school from a distance, students say Adler is easy to talk to.

“He’s just such an incredibly good person to work for, and something like this is just another facet of the relationship he has with the staff,” Bennett said. “It makes him more approachable, more personable.”

Eighth-grader Jake Barokas — a guitar player — said he talks regularly with Adler about music and upcoming gigs. Barokas plays in a cover band and loves classic rock, too, he said.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or Comment at

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