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Steel drum band develops reputation for quality

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.navajotimes.com/entertainment/122007steeldrum.php Caribbean soul Church Rock Academy steel drum band develops reputation for quality By Candace
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 24, 2007
      http://www.navajotimes.com/entertainment/122007steeldrum.php

      Caribbean soul

      Church Rock Academy steel drum band develops reputation for quality

      By Candace Begody
      Special to the Times

      CHURCH ROCK, N.M., Dec. 20, 2007

      Most of the 14 students in the Church Rock Academy steel drum band had
      never even picked up an instrument, let alone played one.

      But that all changed when former college music instructor Randy Markham
      formed the band in late September. Now, after four to six hours a week
      practicing in the classroom, they are playing well beyond their age level,
      said Markham, the band director.

      "They are already professionals," he said. "They continue to amaze me with
      how they work and how fast they learn."

      In a classroom concert Dec. 13, which preceded Monday's performance at
      Church Rock Academy's 2007 winter Christmas concert, the band performed a
      tune called "The Calypso."

      The 9- to 11-year-olds pounded away on African Djembe drums that were half
      as tall as they were, their faces intent on the music.

      Despite its name, the steel drum band ranges far beyond the melodic
      instruments first developed by African slaves on the Caribbean islands of
      Trinidad and Tobago.

      Over the course of the concert, the sounds of Native American flutes filled
      the air, plus a touch of conga and bongo drums from Cuba, and percussion
      accessories such as the guiro, a rattle-like instrument from the Antilles.

      The school's music room is packed with over 40 instruments including double
      second pans and bass pans, which are made of 55-gallon drums and tuned with
      a lower pitch, and African talking drums.

      "Not a lot of people take elementary kids serious so this is really good
      for them," said Juakeene Martinez, 19, who plays drums and has been working
      with the young musicians since the band formed.

      But playing music has other benefits, he noted.

      "They learn math, too," Martinez said. "They are learning to play in unison
      and they're working toward a common goal."

      Fourth-grader Andrea Begay, 10, said she's "happy on stage" and feels like
      she can play anything. Her parents feel happy about her involvement in the
      band too, she said.

      Begay learned "The Calypso" in three days, as did most of the other band
      members.

      Fifth-grader Nygel James, 11, never before had the chance to learn a
      musical instrument and "it's been good to play the instruments." He loves
      to play the flute.

      Irwin King III, 10, says it's fun playing music and he takes his drums home
      to practice, though he's still a bit shy about performing in front of a
      large crowd.

      Emerald Suver, 12, said playing in the band is "pretty cool" and she's
      grown to love the Djembe drums.

      Despite its short lifespan, the Church Rock steel drum band has come far
      enough to get invitations for special occasions, such as the Nov. 28 Inter
      Tribal Justice Conference, where it performed in honor of former Assistant
      Attorney General Regina B. Schofield of the U.S. Office of Justice
      Programs.

      The band has since received invitations to play around the state and in
      Hawaii.

      For information and bookings: call Randy Markham at 505-409-5236 or e-mail
      randy_970@....
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