Setting up the Steel Band

Children playing steel pan drums in an orchestra by CultureMix Arts Ltd

Now you have your set of musical instruments and the space to store them you are ready to organise the project and establish your band as the centrepiece of your school and community.

This practical step by step guide will tell you how to organise the project and create an engaging activity for everyone involved that is enriching and sustainable.

A steel band set up in school time through curriculum-linked music classes can be easier to manage and sustain than an extra-curricular group or after school club although both have benefits. The following are useful tried and tested methods to start the ball rolling:

Introduce Steel Pans to Your School
An all-school presentation and performance by experienced pan tutor musicians will help to generate interest and inspire participation. A 15-30 minute slot at morning assembly is enough to introduce the range of instruments, explain the history and origins, demonstrate the music styles and answer questions.

Organise Taster Workshops
Taster workshops allow class groups to try out the different instruments, so those most likely to benefit from further development can be identified. Timetable the last session after school for your music staff, so they too can enjoy the experience. CultureMix offers tutors for have-a-go workshops and INSET days.

Set up a Weekly Class or After-School Workshop
Once the participants are signed up, it is wise to bring in an experienced tutor to start the process, at least until your music staff are confident they can take it on. 

Teaching steel pan music can appear easy to music educators and to some extent it is within the capabilities of most to teach at an elemental level. The challenge is developing a repertoire-hungry group to reach its full potential.