Steel Drum Band
The Ohio Northern University Steel Drum Band was founded in 2006 by Dr. Sarah Waters. Dr. Waters has done research in Trinidad with composer and arranger Ray Holman, and has interviewed steel drum teacher and historian, Roy Geddes, in Guyana, South America. Her articles on steel drums (pan) can be found in Percussive Notes “Discipline is Love: Roy Geddes, Pan Man of Guyana,” Vol. 41, No.1, February 2003 and “Interview with Ray Holman,” Vol. 35, No. 3, June 1997. Waters is also active in researching Caribbean calypso songs and politics.
Dr. Waters was a member of the International Percussive Arts Society “All-Star Steel Band” which performed at PASIC held in Austin, Texas in November 2012. In November of 2013, she performed at the festival “Pan Rocks,” organized by Tracy Thornton, held in Akron, Ohio.
The ONU Steel Drum Band performs on campus and performs regularly at area schools and for local events. In spring, 2010, the band went on a tour of the South giving concerts in high schools in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana and visited Memphis, Tennessee. In 2011, the band was invited to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee to perform at the historic Fisk Memorial Chapel. The band went back to New Orleans in March 2012, this time performing at the University of New Orleans and then at Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio.
The music of the steel band is traditionally full of lively Caribbean dance rhythms and sing-able melodies. Steel drum music originated on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean in the 1940’s, and has quickly become popular worldwide. Today, the steel band plays a wide variety of music, including popular rock tunes, original compositions by ONU students, arrangements made by ONU students and a wide diversity of styles, from reggae to Beethoven.
At ONU, students are given the opportunity to participate in the Steel band program, regardless of their major. Percussion majors are also given the opportunity to direct the beginner band, gaining valuable teaching experience. Recent graduate Jeffrey Martin (ONU’12) is the new director of steel bands at Clark Montessori School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he directs steel drum bands from grades seven through twelve.