Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Empire HS Imperial PANdemic Steel Drum Band

The nearest high school to the campground is called Empire High School in Vail, AZ.   Empire High School opened in Fall 2005 as the first one-to-one laptop, textbook-free, comprehensive public high school in the nation. The mission of the school is not technology-based. Instead, the digital content is a means to achieving a vision that is centered on long-term student success. It is the mission of Empire High School for students to become self-directed learners through positive relationships. Empire is... Culture-rich, Innovative, Challenging.

The school has a steel drum band and they play at different events in the area.  Today they played at a senior center nearby and we got there early and were in the 4th row with a good view of the band.  They played a number of pieces from Christmas music, Mozart and Reggae and they were were fantastic.  We really enjoyed the 1 hour plus concert and the time went by quickly.  

They had a question and answer period during a short break and I was surprised to learn they practiced and played; however, they don't have competition among schools since the steel bands in Trinidad were all gang related and there was a lot of violence associated with the bands.  For some reason the schools thought that might occur here and don't hold band competitions.  That is too bad since I would love to hear different groups play their best.  

The music that comes out of the steel drums is fantastic.  The sounds seem like there are many different instruments in the band, but they are all drums.  All the drums were hand made and need tuning about  twice a year.  I can't imagine tuning a steel drum with a hammer and actually tuning the drums.  Then again, I can't carry a tune in a basket.

The band had about 20 members there today, but only 12 instruments so the band members switched off every 10-15 minutes or so.   Five of the band members in the front row  didn't switch, but all the rest of them did.  

If you get a chance to see this group, by all means do so.  They are great.  It was really nice seeing these young people doing something they really like that didn't involve hand held electronics. 

We stopped by Judy & Steve's for happy hour and had a nice visit with them.  He had some Alaskan Amber beer that was very tasty.  I think a return trip is in our future real soon before he runs out of the beer.  

That was our day, I hope yours was as nice.   

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