New steel drum ensemble expands students’ musical creativity

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by Sean Soeder ‘18

Opportunities for extracurricular involvement always seem to be popping up here at Wildcat High. From Tolkien Club to Human Chess Day, there is always some new club or group to participate in. It looks like the school is about to get another addition to the multitude of opportunities offered on campus: the Steel Drum Ensemble.

This new group came about through the efforts of the Principal, Mr. Bradesca. He asked Mr. Dan Hamlin, the band director, if he had any experience with the instrument – which, luckily, he did. This interaction kicked off a process of tracking down and buying these instruments, which proved challenging since the instruments are made in Trinidad. All in all this ended up being about a year-long process with the funding for the ensemble coming from the school budget.

The Ensemble is intended for students who have some basic background in music, the ability to read it, and some interest in a new outlet for musical creativity. Although, all levels of musicians are welcome to join up.

“The overall purpose of the Steel Drum Ensemble is to be a new hobby, an outlet for fun, and to diversify what one listens to,” Mr. Hamlin said.

“The overall purpose of the Steel Drum Ensemble is to be a new hobby, an outlet for fun, and to diversify what one listens to,” Mr. Hamlin said.

Performance scheduling right now is similar to the way the Circus Company is set up, in that there will probably be one big performance a year with the possibility of some smaller performances scattered throughout. Details are still being worked out, but practices for the whole group will most likely be once a week for about 2 hours. In addition, students will be allowed to come and practice during their free time.

Currently, around 25 students have shown interest in joining the ensemble. One such student, Khalid Williams ‘16, had this to say about why he joined the Ensemble: “Because I like the instrument itself, I fell in love with it when I went to Kalahari.”

While Jacob Henkels ‘16 said, “Steel drums are unique, [the ensemble] would bring something new to the school that I want to be a part of.”

Just because some of the scheduling is not nailed down yet, do not dismiss this new group. The instruments are here on campus, waiting to be played. They are quite large, and can play a variety of music, including songs like: “Under the Mango Tree,” “Some Nights,” and “Jump.”

This project is just one of many that the music program continues to expand with in order to give students a variety of opportunities to enjoy music. So if you are looking for something new and unique to do on campus, the Steel Drum Ensemble is waiting.