Steel drum bands play their unique music and carry one’s thoughts to places with ocean waves lapping up onto the sandy shore. When one takes a vacation to the Caribbean Islands they expect to hear the music played with pride as well as one would expect to hear it at any of the ocean shores in America. Where one would not expect to hear an award winning steel drum band playing is in Georgia but that is exactly where you will find the Trion High School Steel Drum Band.
The Trion High School has an after school ensemble that concentrates on teaching not only steel drum players but top performing ones as this steel drum band is ranked third in the World. The program is headed by band director Andy Cox. Mr. Cox says that the band has had the honor of having people travel from far distances to hear them play and that they have also traveled far to perform. Many people in the area have not had a steel drum band perform live and once they do they become instant fans of both the band and the music itself.
Students are quick to point out that while the music may be carefree and easy and that they often make the task look easy that steel drum playing is challenging. Alex Hatley, a senior with the steel drum band from Trion High School, said, “It may not sound hard, but it is. Part of what makes it fun is being challenged musically.” Ms. Hatley also plays an instrument in the marching band at the school but she credits the steel drum with giving her a higher appreciation for music. Her love for the steel drum is leading her to choose Jacksonville State University after graduation where they have a highly regarded steel drum program along with a famed marching band.
Senior Aaron Castro, is a drummer in the school marching band and notes that he still has long hours of practice needed to accomplish his level of performance on the steel drum. He said, “Most of the drum notes are written on the drums, but mine does not. When people first start they don't know what they're doing, or what their notes are, but the more you do it, the better you get. It takes a lot of practice.”
Band Director contributes the steel drum band for bringing recognition to the school of its music program and he is expecting a larger band room in the future as well as instruments to train students as the program expands. This is a contradiction to the music programs of many public schools which are losing funding. The steel drum is helping students to see a future in music as well as a ticket to a higher education.
For parents that cannot find a steel drum band program at their school it is suggested they find a professional steel drum band and inquire as to private lessons. The popularity of the steel drum music puts professional bands in high demand and most major cities as well as smaller ones have them.
Ms. Hatley summed up her appreciation for the steel drum in this way, “This has done a lot for people's awareness of our school. They say we have an awesome steel band. I'm proud of that because it gives Trion High School a lot of good attention.”