The fifth and sixth graders at Glenwood Intermediate School enjoyed a special music performance on April 8.

The fifth and sixth graders at Glenwood Intermediate School enjoyed a special music performance on April 8. The University of Akron (UA) Steel Drum Band visited the school to do a morning and an early afternoon performance.

It was made possible with the help of two grants from Arts in Stark and The Friends of the Stark County District Library Little Theatre Troupe. Bob Esterle, music teacher at Glenwood was the lead in getting the UA Steal Drum Band to do the special performances.  

“We wanted to give the kids a cultural music experience and to give them a chance to hear the band,” Esterle said. “We also have tied the performance to our state standards for science to learn about acoustics and how the drums make the different sounds.”

A total of 940 kids between the two grades listened for 45 minutes to the seemingly magical sound of the different style of drums.

Matt Dudack, artistic director at the University of Akron, said the UA steel drum band began in 1980 and is one of the oldest college based bands in Ohio. He said the band loves doing outreach programs for a number of reasons.

“Most of our students are music education or music performance majors and we have a few graduate students in the mix too,” Dudack said. “Doing the outreach programs is all about engaging with our audiences and learning to engage. It also gets us out of the practice room. And, today we also wanted to promote our spring concert at EJ Thomas Hall.”

Dudack said there were 12 pieces being used for the two concert performances at Glenwood. There were 23 students from UA performing including Keith Wilson, a graduate of GlenOak High School.

There was also an educational component where Dudack provided a brief history of where steel drums started and how they became so popular. Students learned the name each type of drum and other percussion instruments used by the band members along with the type of sound each made.

Jennifer Hickman, education coordinator at Arts in Stark said the fifth graders received a SmArts mini grant for $750 to help bring in the UA band.

“We offer the grants to local teachers to help them incorporate the arts into the standard curriculum and this grant was for an educational experience combining music and science,” Hickman said.

A group of fifth grade students made drum plates using tin pie pans. They joined the UA steel drum band on the gym floor to perform one song. Dudack called the group 'The Steel Avengers.”

The unique sounds of the steel drums serenaded students and teachers throughout the building as students made their way out of the gymnasium to have lunch.