I want to emphasize how beautiful and powerful the presence of the steel drum has been in Buffalo. It is a vehicle for new musical sound and for increased awareness of the diversity of peoples on this earth. It was a large and meaningful step for Worlds of Music and the community to move from only bringing in guest musicians to buying equipment that will allow us to develop a permanent program devoted to the place of music in culture.
community group performed in a two hour holiday open house show on Buffalo’s Main Street. Saturday’s event also included the Fireants, a local dance band that donated its performance. The afternoon included a chili and hot chocolate “supper” right before the town’s Christmas parade and so several hundred people heard the steel drum ensemble who otherwise might not have thought to come out for such a musical event. The same thing occurred later on Saturday night when the group performed during half time of the high school basketball tournament. There was much excitement about the pan group among students and community members and weeks afterward people were still stopping me in the street to thank me for helping to buy the pans and start a class at the high school.
A last note: as part of the week with Tom Miller, the students christened themselves Pan Tatanka. Tatanka is the Lakota word for Buffalo, so now since we’re in Buffalo and the high school mascot is the Bison and the steel drum group is Tatanka, we have the Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo pan band.
The Visit: We originally had planned to have Shannon Dudley come in to offer pan workshops. Because of scheduling conflicts, we instead invited Tom Miller. Tom is a member of Pan Ramajay and a prominent scholar and performer of Trinidadian music. After a long day of rehearsing with the BHS percussion students, the ensemble spent a day performing at the elementary and middle schools for every student. Tom played with the high school students who showed themselves to be committed performers, both joyous and serious in the music. Younger students had an opportunity to hear the music, to hear a talk on the music’s history and to ask questions about the music. Many of these younger children have spoken to me and to other adults in Buffalo about how “cool” the pan ensemble was and how much they want to be a part of it when they are older. On Friday Tom and several local musicians talked and played at the Buffalo Senior Center. Tom also spent a day working with a community group—a workshop that was free and open to the public. On Saturday afternoon, both the high school ensemble and the
Since 2006, Buffalo, Wyoming has been home to two steel drum Ensembles: Pan Buffalo, a community steel drum group, and the Tatanka Steel Band, a part of the Buffalo High School Percussion Ensemble.
Buffalo High School, the class and the book: In the spring of 2007, the BHS Percussion Ensemble read Shannon Dudley’s book Carnival Music in Trinidad. Students saw two videos, Mas’ Fever and One Hand Don’t Clap. Discussion of the book and the films helped the students to situate steel drum historically and culturally. This class was the first in a Wyoming high school to include steel drum and the first to introduce the basic concepts of ethnomusicology into the high school curriculum.
Worlds of Music