Steelpan drum group

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    I am in the process of purchasing some jumbie jam steel drums for a student ensemble that meets after school. What other instruments would I ideally use for such an ensemble? Conga drums, etc.? I haven’t seen any of the instructional/song books yet so I’m wondering if other instruments are included in these arrangements, but I also plan on doing some of my own arrangements.


    Hi Jennifer,

    I am definitely not an expert on Pan groups but here is an excellent NAfME publication you might want to check out: The Steel Band Game Plan: Strategies for Starting, Building, and Maintaining Your Pan Program Published by MENC: The National Association for Music Education in Partnership with Rowman & Littlefield Education – Chris Tanner Presents a Guide for Successful Implementation and Development of a Steel Band Program.

    Also, go to the web site of our state’s premiere HS Steel Drum Band, Mayfield (WI) HS. From there you can contact their director. Anything he can’t answer he will send you to another expert who can.

    I hope this helps!

    Christine Hayes – NAfME Council for General Music Education, Past-Chair


    A student teacher in our district, a percussionist, says that steel drums usually play all by themselves. You can add big shakers. They also use big drums called surdos. If you can get something similar to that, it would be authentic. Good luck developing this interesting and creative ensemble!

    Mary Anne Zupan
    Retired K-5 Music Specialist
    CGME Council


    I have a steel drum band at my school, and I’ve been teaching pan for 15 years. You can add a number of instruments to the ensemble. Hand percussion tends to go most naturally, but you can even add rock band to a steel drum band! I am more than happy to answer any questions or share music! Welcome to the world of PAN!!! 🙂



    I teach a percussion based curriculum in Chicago through the Noble Network of Charter Schools. I am a founding teacher at our school (Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy) I arrange everything for my band program. All warm-ups, etudes, and music from pop to R&B to Jazz and more. My classroom consists of steel pans, rhythm section (4 keyboards, bass, guitar, drums, auxiliary) as well as barrels, marimba, xylophone and an assortment of hand percussion. You can sample my work here on YouTube:

    I’d be happy to discuss any questions/concerns you may have.

    Doug Corella
    Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy
    Chicago, IL

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