In the Key of Life: Jayson Delong’s Journey


Madeleine Ritterbusch

“For Christmas, ‘Sleigh Ride’ is always a fun song to play,” Delong said. Delong led some band classmates in a round of holiday carols while standing a Salvation Army kettle at the Hopkinton tree lighting.

You may sometimes hear the band practicing, filling the hallways in C-wing with sound as the music swells. Or maybe you see your peers toting around instruments in a variety of oddly shaped cases. But how much do you know about the people behind the music?

Class of 2023’s Jayson Delong moved to Hopkinton at the start of last year and has been a part of the high school band and the jazz ensemble ever since.

“I’ve always liked music, but I started playing the trumpet in first grade,” Delong said.

His first door to music was opened by his mother’s involvement with the Salvation Army. She currently oversees the Framingham location. Although this is where Delong found his start, his music journey certainly did not end there.

“I started playing with the Salvation Army in first grade and then I continued playing up till now, where I participate in a band outside of school in addition to my jazz ensemble commitment. It’s an all-brass band, so it brings different instruments than the high school’s band,” Delong said.

For Delong, band is more than just an extracurricular activity. The passion with which he pursues music has afforded him some incredible opportunities.

“With this band, I got to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade. I went to Los Angeles recently to march in the parade, so that was a lot of fun,” Delong said.

This level of performance may seem nerve-wracking to others, but for Delong, performance is part of what makes music rewarding.

“I enjoy performing because I love being able to see my hard work pay off,” Delong said.

It’s hardly surprising that Delong has followed through with his commitment to music when you look at his influences.

“My brother was actually a trumpet performance major in college. He plays piano, trumpet, and basically every instrument you could think of. My dad is also musical, he’s played many instruments throughout his life, particularly bass guitar,” Delong said.

Having a musical family can certainly be inspiring, but having mentors is another important factor in devotion to music.

“The person who first taught me to play is Drew Poulopoulos. He was the northern New England person for the Salvation Army when I learned how to play and we became very close. I went to his retirement recently, it was really a full circle moment,” said Delong.

Learning from different people is important for becoming a well-rounded musician. As is meeting new people and having new experiences.

“Recently, Mr. Hay has been a mentor. He’s a pusher and a fun guy to talk to. One of my private instructors, Dean Farrar, really pushed me. He was in the military, so he was very pushy, but I learned to become more musical from him,” Delong said.

It wasn’t always easy to maintain his dedication to music, but pushing through tough circumstances builds the kind of grit musicians need.

“During COVID, it was hard to stick with it because I wasn’t at school and I wasn’t playing outside of school,” Delong said, “When it was time to go back to in-person school, I wasn’t sure if it was worth putting in my schedule, but I decided, ‘You know what? I’m going to keep with it.’”

Delong’s friend, Jayna Madden, has seen just how engaged Delong is with his music.

“He doesn’t stop, whenever you walk out of the room he’s always on the piano. He’s on it every chance he gets, practicing and making music,” Madden said.

With all the time he puts into practicing, Delong has built up an arsenal of instruments he can jam out on.

“I play piano, bass, and drums, but trumpet and horn are my main instruments,” Delong said.

Having so many instruments to choose from gives Delong the flexibility to fit into many different ensembles.

“I like playing in ensembles. It gives me the challenge to play to the level of the other musicians and try to balance with their sound, so it’s a lot more collaborative. If you make a mistake it can be covered up better, so that’s a plus,” Delong said.

Clearly, music has been a part of Delong’s life for a long time, but it is by no means secluded. Rather, music is something that flows freely into all other aspects of life.

“Music definitely does translate to other parts of my life. I find it to be a calming meditation. When everything’s crazy and I need a break, I always turn on some sort of music or play the piano. Practicing always gets my mind off of what’s going on,” Delong said, “Music provides me with a place of comfort.”