After-school steel drum music program begins Sept 26

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gary Gibson working with students in adult class

After two years of organizational preparation and fundraising, Steel Magic Northwest is delighted to announce the launch of a unique new after-school music program for youth in the Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and Shoreline areas.

Modeled after some of the 200 similar programs around the U.S. visited by Executive and Artistic Director Gary Gibson (as guest performer, composer, and clinician), Steel Magic Northwest will provide after-school steel orchestra to youth from 5th through 12th grades, and one adult evening class.

Financial barriers to participation in the youth program will be minimized through a sliding scale and tuition waiver for low-income families.

Steel Magic Northwest drums

Although the steel band is not a new thing in the Seattle region, the creation of a sustainable, long-term, continuous youth program with nationally recognized leadership and the size necessary to create a full orchestral sound has eluded this area.

Model organizations have demonstrated the many community benefits of these programs, which have been active in other parts of the country since the mid 1960’s.

Gibson, a national champion of Trinidad’s premier steel band competition, and an international award winner in composition of steel pan music, founded the organization after “getting tired of getting on airplanes to see this done at its full potential,” and set out to create a new national model program in his own backyard in the Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Shoreline areas.

‘This kind of music program is quite different than traditional band or orchestra or choir in many ways, and the benefits to the participants go much, much deeper than an education in music,” Gibson says.

He points out that teamwork and leadership skills, in particular, are in play more in the steel band than any other musical ensemble type, and that players typically have more of a sense of responsibility to, and ownership of, the group.

Teamwork and leadership skills are important in steel bands

He is also quick to emphasize that, musically, the steel orchestra is capable of playing a wider variety of music styles than most groups.

“Caribbean styles like calypso and reggae are what most audiences expect to hear, but my groups also play classical music, jazz, funk, pop, you name it. Properly arranged and executed, there is nothing lacking.”

Gibson founded the organization in the summer of 2014, assembled a board of trustees, obtained IRS tax-exempt status, and raised more than $60,000 for a brand new set of steel orchestra instruments, complete with cases and carts and stands.

Steel Magic Northwest launches its community-based program starting on September 26, with 12-week classes for youth from 5th through 12th grades and adults. Classes are held in Edmonds.

For more information, visit the website.


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