Steel pan band is returning to campus

Kelly Smith

What does one think of during this winter weather? Car troubles? Tormenting walks to class? Slipping on ice every five minutes? This is the annoying part of winter after Christmas and New Year’s are over. Surviving at least two and a half more months of winter can be aggravating.

Fortunately, anyone looking for something to bring on a tropical atmosphere, the GVSU steel pan band is returning, and we’re performing at the percussion student recital hour at the end of February in the Louis Armstrong Theater.

Whenever I go to the percussion studio to practice, I occasionally look at some of the posters hanging up on the wall. One of them was a promotion poster about a steel pan concert from 2001. My instructor, Greg Secor, spoke about how the steel pan band hadn’t performed in a while, and we’re all psyched that we can finally perform again, not only at student recital hour, but also possibly future performances at random times in random locations. Sounds like fun.

What is a steel pan? It’s basically another name for a steel drum. For those who haven’t heard of a steel drum, it’s a drum made of steel that’s been pounded so that striking it in certain areas called grooves produce a certain pitch. Between the different sizes of the pans and their grooves, all notes in many octaves can be reached. What do they sound like? Think of music from Jamaica, or the famous song “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. It’s truly a unique sound.

I am highly encouraging non-music majors to check it out. As I previously mentioned, we are making our first performance at the student recital hour, which is Fridays at noon, before spring break with the rest of the percussion performances in Louis Armstrong Theater. After that, we will certainly try to have other performances. I know that in the past the steel pan band has performed in Kirkhof for people walking by. We might do that again, or even do something outside once it really gets warm. There aren’t that many of us, but we have enough to get a good jam going between the pans and drum set in the background.

Now think about it. I’m sure that I’m far from the only one who grows tired of cold weather once the holidays come and go. We begin looking forward to spring break, perhaps take a trip down to someplace tropical like Florida. With a performance right before spring break, it will certainly give the traveling people something to carry with them. For those who aren’t traveling, it’s something to look forward to in April.

From what I’ve been told, the steel pan band is something that has been on the verge of being cut for a while, so hopefully getting out and performing will help bring the steel pans back to popularity. Hopefully this isn’t just wishful thinking, but maybe we could even start some new traditions for future performances all around campus.