Skip to main content

Ain’t No Party Like a Steel Drum Party

Posted by on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 in Blair School of Music, Music, Student Life.

Returning home from Vandy for Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break always yields a barrage of questions about college and life and my future and all the stuff that has me rather stressed at the moment.  Amidst finals preparation and the hurried finishing of final projects for my classes, I have been thinking about how I plan to answer the “How’s college treatin’ ya?” question this semester (at church and awkward New Years Eve parties and the likes), and I have decided that my answer this season will be two words: STEEL BAND.

Vandy offers four steel drum classes each semester that are actually 1-hour course credits on YES (our registration tool).  I stumbled into this realization last spring as I was frantically scrolling through prospective courses to take this fall, and I decided I would check out the B section of the class, or the intermediate section.  I dabbled in steel drums my junior year of high school, as I was in the drumline and generally liked hitting things with mallets to see if they would make music, so I thought this class would be a good fit for my musical abilities. I also figured that a steel drum class would make my class load of Financial Accounting, Understanding Organizations, Systematic Inquiry, French 201W, and a language development research lab seem a little less heavy.

I begged and pleaded with my friends Mary Kate and George to join me in my steel drum endeavors until they finally signed up for the class, and we were pleasantly surprised to get straight to messing around on the steel pans in our first class.  Our steel band included lead pans, guitar pans, cello pans, double seconds, double tenors, and bass pans; all of which are hollowed-out oil drums with circular and ovular notes hammered into them.  The instructor for the class, steel drum enthusiast and frequent Trinidad visitor Mat Britain, wanted us to get the full steel drum experience so he would let us switch instruments for each of the songs we played, and every now and then he would bring in a video of the steel drum bands in Trinidad and tell us we needed to “jam” as hard as they did.

We be jammin', mon.

Rehearsals for the B sections were from 6:30 to 8:15 on Sunday nights in the Blair School of Music, but I never dreaded going to class because playing steel drums makes me feel like I live on an island and have rather long blonde dreadlocks and not a care in the world.  Deep, I know.

The class prepared us for a steel drum performance at the end of the semester, and that performance actually happened last Sunday in Ingram Hall at 8:00!  Many many smiling faces of friends appeared there, and though I had to wear unattractive khaki pants, I had a blast bringing “Jump in the Line,” “Soak Up the Sun,” “Adrenaline City,” and “The Rhythm of Calypso” to life in the crevass of hollowed out oil drums.

The 4 best steel drummers you've ever seen.

At the end of the day, I am thankful for

1. Cool steel drum arrangements of old Sheryl Crow songs

2. Vandy friends that will sit through any performance if I’m in it

3. George Luke shamelessly dancing at the front of the stage while we took our bows

Finals may be upon us, but it’s still a great week to be a Commodore.

Tags: , , , , , ,