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America

Published on June 14th, 2014 | by Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

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Instruments tuned up by their creator, Urban Steel is set to sway Rochester. Next stop, Antigua?

Last month James Monroe High School welcomed a very special guest indeed, legendary Antiguan steel drummer Veron Henry. Fifteen years ago, Henry brought his world renowned Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra to play in Rochester. As it was too expensive to transport their instruments by plane, Henry and his team instead built a set of “pans” here at the John Marshall High School. The band subsequently donated these nine instruments to the school.  Thus began two of the great musical traditions of the RCSD: the Steel Drum program (now at Monroe) and Urban Steel.

But drums need regular tuning, especially ones past ten years old. To assist, Henry generously returned to Rochester and tuned up his creations. Needless to say, his visit was a treat for teachers and students. The pans are good to go.

Music teacher Lisa Scott is responsible for much of the current popularity and success of the steel drum program. The only one of its kind in the District, the program works in two ways. At Monroe, Scott has designated Steel Drum classes throughout the day. Hundreds of students have learned to play and perform at school concerts. Last year three steel drum ensembles, ranging from grades seven to twelve, participated in the Spring Music Fest Concert.

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