South Africa - St
Nicholas School Grade 9 band has won the 11th Steel Drum Festival High
School Trophy for their performance of The Bear Necessities and House of
the Rising Sun.
In a sun drenched Durban Botanic Gardens thirty bands played
with all their might to win one of the nine trophies that were up for
grabs. Learners, proud parents and grandparents and general spectators
gathered in delightful surroundings to enjoy the morning of music.
Bryan Clarke, the Director of the Steel Drum Foundation said, “we are
incredibly proud of the growth of our project over the last 11 years.
The bands who have won today have played their hearts out. Learners love
being able to express themselves musically, and the judges have
commented on how the standards have improved over the years.”
“St. Nicholas has won this trophy for the second year running. Their
principal Mike Ford Is an enthusiastic supporter of the programme and
they have five different bands. St. Nicholas school are dedicated to
playing Steel Drums and their hard work is paying off.”
“Being part of a band not only develops an appreciation of music, it
teaches discipline, co-ordination and teamwork. It also builds
self-confidence – the children are proud to represent their school,”
commented Mike Ford.
“Once they have experienced the thrill of playing they never miss a
practice. They play in an unrestrained atmosphere, dancing to the music
and loving every minute of it.”
The St. Nicholas School entered four bands in this year’s event, their
Grade 6 Band walked away with the Troubadour Trophy. When each of their
bands were performing the other bands danced and sang to support their
Caroline Smart, one of the judges commented that when evaluating a band,
they look at how they perform compared to other schools in their
category, and they also look at the improvement over the year before.
Caroline Smart has been a judge at this event since it first started.
She commented at the prize giving that the change over the years, and in
particular this year is extraordinary. Initially there was more bashing
of the drums than music, but the contestants are becoming extremely
proficient and the range of music now includes a little classics and
many popular songs in addition to the old favourites.
This is truly a rainbow nation project which gives anybody that would
like to be involved,
After overcoming initial nervousness, everyone who performed at this
year’s festival showed a love for this wonderful rhythmic music and
energy filled the air as dozens of KZN learners beat large half-moon
shaped steel drums, eyes sparkling with concentration and vitality. Hand
actions and some dancing completed a delightful day.
Background to the Steel Drum
They are among 2 400 learners making up
more than 90 different bands who eagerly look forward to their weekly
lesson given by one of the six teachers of the Steel Drum Foundation.
Founded by professional musicians Bryan Clarke and Dobri Paliev, the
Steel Drum Foundation was established 11 years ago to enable KZN
youngsters to experience the multiple benefits of being part of a steel
‘Anyone who expects the steel drums to sound like ordinary drums are in
for a wonderful surprise,’ said Bryan. ‘Although the action is the same
– you beat the oil drums with sticks – they are far more versatile. They
can produce any tune from ‘Yellow Bird’ to ‘Rock around the clock’ and
the catchy island rhythm and rich tones make you itch to get up and clap
‘What is so exciting about the steel drum is that it is so easy to learn
‘ says Bryan. ‘ Using our specially developed teaching methodology,
children with no musical training are quickly able to pick up the basic
techniques. We can introduce a brand new song at the start of a lesson
and they will be playing it quite well by the end of the lesson.’
‘We are changing lives here. The lesson is the high point of the week
for many of the children, particularly those from impoverished
backgrounds who have little opportunity for constructive and fun leisure
‘Music is my passion,’ says Bryan. ‘I love what I do and it is a delight
to watch a child enjoy developing new skills and abilities.‘
‘Nedbank has been a longstanding supporter of the arts,’ says Elizabeth
Maepa, the company’s head of corporate banking in KwaZulu-Natal.
‘This programme opens up an exciting new dimension of empowerment and
education for youngsters who would not otherwise be able to experience
the delights of learning to play an instrument and performing in public.
It offers young people accessible musical education, a constructive and
healthy alternative to inactivity and so much more. We are delighted to
be involved with such a worthwhile project.’
For more information Bryan Clarke can be contacted on 083 777 6762.
Phone Mike Ford of St. Nicholas School on 033 345 1566.
All the winners are:
1. KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Spirit Trophy.
Awarded to the band that captures something a little different.
Presented to Maris Stella School. Mrs. Thompson was present to receive
the trophy from Elizabeth Maepa of Nedbank.
2. Artsmart Rising Star Trophy
Presented to Willem Tier of the Browns School Grade 5 Band for his
delightful performance. Willem was totally focused on the conductor and
has mastered the art of playing his steel drum.
3. The most improved junior school band, The Botanic Gardens Trophy
Presented to St. Henry’s Marist Bros’ School Rowan Hutchinson and Erin
Honneysett received the trophy.
Steel Drum Foundation Trophy for the best single tune performed.
Presented to Embury College Grade 2 for Obladi Oblada.
6. Troubedor Trophy to St. Nicholas Grade 6 Band.
7. Nedbank Trophy for the winning Primary School went to
Rivermead School in Kokstad – Grade 6 Band.
8. Runner up High School Trophy to Ridge Park College.
9. St. Nic G9:
The winner of the 11th Steel Drum Festival Competition High School
Trophy is St. Nicholas School Grade 9 band. St. Nicholas School is
Pictured with Nosipho Mkhize who received the trophy on behalf of the
Band are from left, Bryan Clarke, Elizabeth Maepa of Nedbank, and Dolbri