Ain’t No Party Like a Steel Drum Party
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.