Back Together, Miller South's Steel Drum Band

Music to Our Ears
Posted on 04/19/2021
(Courtesy Spectrum News One)

The students in Miller South’s Steel Drum Band in Akron had to adapt to learning online during the pandemic.

“We used to play on paint cans,” said seventh-grader Elena Gomez, “so we dented them to make notes and then we started playing rhythms on those. Then (Mr. Dudack) started giving us buckets to play with our hands or pencils to play some more rhythms.”

The students also learned about the history of steel drums and their origins in Trinidad.

“I wouldn’t even know about half the stuff if we didn’t have to learn online,” said eight-grader Salvatore Pietrosinti.

Matt Dudack, the band’s director, said despite being apart when classes were online, the students have been playing great now that they are back in school.

He said it’s all thanks to the unique way steel drums are taught.

“It’s a lot of muscle memory there. We don’t use sheet music here. It’s all taught by rote which is a traditional method in Trinidad that you show the person next to you how to play.”

Students at Miller South specialize in different visual and performing arts, but in steel drum band, students can join whether they have a music background or not.

“It’s almost like a breath of fresh air from the rest of your classes,” said Madison Dunlap, a seventh-grader.

The students and Dudack said they are excited to play more songs together to end the school year.

“We can finally see people,” said seventh-grader, Keyona Jones. “It’s like human interaction, finally!”

For more information about Miller South’s Steel Drum band, click here to watch them perform on YouTube.
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