US – The sounds of Trinidad and Tobago can be heard in the Elgin High School’s music room as the Calypso band prepares for its winter concert. As special guests at the Observer’s 28th Annual Holiday Music Festival the first weekend in December, the EHS students will show off their talents on the steel drums.
The band began two years ago when the music teacher for Elgin’s third- through 12th-grade students, Tucker Murphey, founded a group of youth interested in that style of percussion. What started with grade school classroom instruments and a small xylophone is now a full steel drum ensemble with various sizes of steelpans and drums to create the sounds of the Caribbean. The school district invested about $28,000 to purchase the collection of instruments last year.
“(The district) could see the progress of the program and what we were doing without the instruments,” Murphey said. “They were excited to have something unique that no other school district has, and the school board had faith in me.”
Elgin High School is the only high school in the state with a Calypso band. For some students, this was one of the reasons they joined. While many students had previous music experience, the steel drums offered a new kind of sound and an opportunity to learn something new.
Senior Dawson Larman said he has been part of the Calypso band since it began because he wanted to be part of the new improvements that are going on at the school.