BØRNS drummer returns to alma mater for TEDx event


Courtesy of Kristen Gleeson-Prata

Kristen (bottom, right) played drums in SHS marching band’s drumline.

2006 Solon High School alumna Kristen Gleeson-Prata, the drummer of BØRNS, makes her triumphant return to SHS for TEDxSolonHighSchool on Feb. 24.

BØRNS is an up-and-coming American alternative rock and pop band. They have performed at various music festivals like Coachella and have been featured on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”. Gleeson-Prata is the drummer for the band.

Gleeson-Prata advanced her musical career in SHS marching band, symphonic band and jazz band as well as Music In Motion band and percussion ensemble.

SHS band director Ed Kline remembers teaching her as a student in high school.

Kristen was one of the most passionate students I have ever had the privilege to teach,” Kline said. “The look of pure joy on her face when she was playing was infectious.”

Kline started teaching band in Solon when Gleeson-Prata was a junior, although she has been playing since the fifth grade. He describes her as passionate, determined and dedicated to her music, as well as highly talented.

Courtesy of Judie Vegh
Kristen plays the drums for BØRNS.

As a set drummer in jazz band, Kristen was known for never losing the tempo of a chart,” Kline said. “After a concert, we sat down and listened to the recording with a metronome, and it never moved. That’s unheard of from professionals, let alone high school students.”

With the help of Kline and her peers, Gleeson-Prata was able to discover her true passion for music.
“[Solon High School] contributed to my musical career in a huge way,” Gleeson-Prata said. “I wouldn’t have chosen my career in music without it. I was able to gain a wide range of musical knowledge, and experience due to my participation in all of the different outlets at Solon.”

Gleeson-Prata’s passion for drumming is clear to not only Kline, but her fiancé and fellow Solon alumnus Alex Collister.

“Kristen is such a hard working, passionate person that it only makes sense she has received the success that she has earned,” Collister said.

Collister and Gleeson-Prata met when they were both in the SHS marching band. Collister said he has watched her overcome her struggles and grow into the successful drummer that she is.

“I’ve grown as a musician by playing music with her,” Collister said. “She has continued to improve herself at every turn, and has never faced a challenge she was unable to overcome both in her professional and personal life.”

Because of her perseverance, Gleeson-Prata was able to establish herself as a serious musician. After graduating from Berklee College of Music, she flew to Los Angeles and started taking as many gigs as she could. At first, she played for free just to gain experience, and then established herself enough to pick and choose from multiple events.

Courtesy of Kristen Gleeson-Prata
Kristen (bottom, center) posed with her high school friends in a band photo.

“New challenges show themselves with every success, but that’s how we grow. I’m always learning and improving,” Gleeson-Prata said.

Eventually, Gleeson-Prata got the opportunity to become the drummer for the band BØRNS. She describes her experience of playing drums professionally in the band as surreal.

“I have quite literally reached some of my dreams being in the band,” she said. “I’ve gotten to make amazing music with wonderful people while traveling the world. I’ve improved as a drummer, musician and human, and have found so much meaning in what I do and who I am.”

Due to her success, the SHS TEDx committee has invited her to speak at their event. Teresa Pace, English teacher and TEDx advisor, thinks Gleeson-Prata could bring inspiration to aspiring musicians in Solon.

I think [her success] is something to be applauded and admired,” Pace said. “She’s a role model to all musicians and to all younger girls here at Solon. We have a lot of musicians and kids who are in so many bands here, and I think having her [speak] really appeals to a large part of our population here at school.”

Pace also said she believes Gleeson-Prata can bring a non-traditional quality to TEDx because she’s a female drummer, on top of being apart of a well known band. Pace said she is honored to have Gleeson-Prata fly out to speak at their event.

Gleeson-Prata said she hopes to bring a unique speech to the audience on Friday.

I would tell aspiring professional musicians to make sure they absolutely love it, because it isn’t easy,” she said. “A common saying is ‘Don’t go into music because you want to. Go into music because you have to.’ Be prepared to work hard. I would also tell them to always be genuine and kind. That will get you far.

All SHS students are welcome to go hear Gleeson-Prata speak at TEDxSolonHighSchool at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24  along with Dominick Farinacci and Lynn Moore.