EP Award Promo

Sounds from afar


What Chuck Leibold lacks in Scottish heritage, he makes up for with his appreciation for the music of that land.

Leibold, vice president and director of wealth management services for Bankers Trust Co., has been playing with the Iowa Scottish Pipes and Drums for about 24 years. Although he had some Scottish ancestry on his maternal grandmother’s side, the fondness he developed for that genre of music surprised even himself, he said.

“This friend of one of the partners at the law firm I went to work for after college was in a band and found out I was a drummer,” Leibold said. “He kept badgering me to go to a practice until I finally did it. I was very surprised to find out that I was really enamored with the whole style of playing.”

Leibold’s father and uncle had played in the Des Moines Drum and Bugle Corps, and he began playing the drum at age 5. He went on to play in concert and orchestral bands during his early teen years, before abandoning the traditional school band structure to play “more rebellious rock ‘n’ roll” in garage bands during high school.

“I’ve played lots of different styles, and this is the most musical style of drumming I’ve ever known,” he said.

The major thing Leibold noticed when he started learning drum corps music was that the beat structure was very different from what he was used to.

“When you think of most drumming and you listen to marching bands, the drumming tends to be very much on the beat, a rhythm and time-keeping device,” he said. “It’s not so at all in Scottish drumming. In Scottish drumming, we’re not playing on the beat very often. We’re all the way around the beat, weaving in and out, playing different accents and rhythms and styles to accent the pipe tunes. Everything we do is designed to enhance the pipe music.”

He also found that unlike other music, there are no common drum scores for the Scottish style, so instead, the drum arrangements are composed by the musicians in the group. This is a challenge that he enjoys, thanks to having some guidance from mentors skilled in the style.

“I was very fortunate early on in my playing to be able to spend some time with a couple of very accomplished drummers from Scotland and one from Kansas City who gave me some tips about how you think about composing scores musically depending on the kind of tune it is,” he said. “That and hands-on experience made composing something very fun and stimulating for me.”

Leibold, who is lead drummer for the Iowa Scottish Pipes and Drums, is responsible for writing all the drum music for his section in the group’s upper level competition band. He also participates in the group’s beginner’s band as an instructor, competes individually at each spring and summer at Highland games across the Midwest and gives lessons on the side. Both he and the band have improved their playing abilities in the past few years, he said.

“As the band has really focused on competing and has elevated itself, it’s also challenged me to keep escalating in my ability,” he said. “I really do enjoy the competition, and I figured that I needed to get after it if I was going to move ahead in my solos because I wasn’t getting any younger.”

The hard work he puts into practice at least a couple of nights a week year-round has paid off by making him not only a better player, but a better leader overall, which benefits his work life, he said.

“There are a lot of those same kinds of social, networking and leadership skills that are involved in my business life and within the band,” he said. “I’m a section leader within the band, but I also have to make my group fit into the overall structure. When you look at how my wealth management group operates within the bank, it’s real similar. I’m the leader of this area, but you have to get the different parts to work together to fit within the context of what Bankers Trust is doing.

“In a volunteer organization, you can’t demand that somebody do something. You have to convince them that it’s the right thing to do. From that standpoint, I think it’s helped me in applying the same things in my business life. There has to be teamwork, cooperation, compromise, and in both cases, the end result is a lot of fun.”

fhbl brd 080123 300x250