Saturday, 30 May 2015

Steel pan Workshops in York

Victoria Dave Charlotte Hall Park Horsforth 1990s 
It's over a year now since my friend Dave died. and high time that his legacy was properly reactivated in York. The adult band, Steel Expression, that he formed was determined to keep on playing, both for themselves and in Dave's memory. The younger band Rhythm and Steel, is "resting", as they say.
One way or another York Music Service found me and I, them, and we ran a series of four workshops which were designed to train up prospective pan teachers,  reactivate former players and interest new ones.
The willing sacrifices from York Music Service were Christian and Billy. Helen from Steel Expression attended every session. Tom, Chris and Becki for Rhythm and Steel ventured warily back. Dan welcomed Charlotte from London who is also wanting to learn more about  the Foxwood songsheets and what is suitable repertoire for the various abilities.
Week One at York High School, Acomb, and I set up the York pans and the extra ones that I had brought from Leeds and waited both nervously and expectantly for the students. Astonished to find 22 people. We covered colour-coding and two chord, eight-bar songs.
Week Two. Different people and slightly less. Started with different two-chord song, moved to three chords [still major] and some contrapuntal stuff.
Week Three. Different people again. I upped the degree of difficulty so that Tom and Becky could relive Eddie Grant's Give Me Hope Johanna. This wonderful song, still in the Foxwood set was taught to me in the early 1980s by StClair Morris and improved by the additions that Dave suggested in the late nineties. [Dave's great strength was how he added to arrangements]. We added minor chords and there is no doubt that Drunken Sailor is a top tune for all time.
However, I went back to Leeds and realised that this [Give Me Hope . . ] was a tune too far, and for Week Four . .
We returned to the easier songs and considered waltzes and some, and then launched into the Kaiser Chief's Oh My God. Which this class of old hands and of complete beginners learnt from start to end inside 45 minutes. Predictably we ended with a riot. [Dave's partner/now widower came with me this week to see Dave's legacy beginning to bloom.]
I shall miss my Monday afternoons, but not the A64.
If anyone wants to learn how to play steelpans, join a band or hire a steelband they can contact me/us on

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