Philippa Schuyler Middle School (IS383) Steelpan Ensemble
Recently Philippa Schuyler Middle School (IS383) Steelpan Ensemble held its Spring 2016 Showcase. The prestigious middle school is already recognized for its outstanding academic accomplishments by producing some of the best and brightest standouts and most exceptional students on the New York academic landscape. Let it be known that they, too, can excel and ‘mix it up’ on the music and arts performing front. Not to be left out of the Brooklyn mix of great steel orchestras and steelband music programs. Brooklyn, the de facto home to the steelpan outside of Trinidad & Tobago the birthplace of the steelpan instrument.
Ms. Nyasha Rhoden with the Steelpan Ensemble
The steelpan music program is lead by its director and co-founder Ms. Nyasha Rhoden, who is both the director of the steel ensemble and chorus. Ms. Rhoden is a full-time music teacher whose responsibilities include both Steelpan and vocal music. Ms. Rhoden says, “I started the Steelpan program with the assistance of Abdullah Pollard, the Parent Coordinator at our school at the time in Spring 2003. We were an after-school program that grew into an in-school pan program.” Philippa Schuyler Middle School covers grades 5 through 8. Most of the students have two to three years of playing performance in the steel orchestra.
Many may not be aware, but Ms. Rhoden herself is a first class-panist who WST (When Steel Talks) had the pleasure of watching perform and grow in her formative years with Brooklyn’s champion Sonatas Steel Orchestra.
Jay Seiden addresses parents
This year’s Spring Showcase at Philippa Schuyler Middle School focused on the Pan Jazz genre - appropriately named ‘About That Pan Jazz,’ and was sponsored by the About the Swing organization. A very enthusiastic and supportive Jay Seiden, president of the About the Swing, was present at this performance among the host of parents and friends.
- Fungii Mama by Blue Mitchell
- Satin Doll by Duke Ellington
- One Love by Bob Marley & The Wailers
- Chameleon by Herbie Hancock
- My House by Farmer Nappy
The steel ensemble performed a wide and varied set that provided an opportunity for the young musicians to not only experience different genres of music, but it also allowed them to explore the world of soloing and improvisation. During each song as a means of free musical expression several students were given an opportunity to engage in a solo.
All the pieces performed during the program were arranged by Rob Duguay and Jordan Piper, two members of the About the Swing Trio. Through the event’s Jazz standards and showcase, the ongoing thrust of the About the Swing organization, to share world-class instruction and performances by working professionals with students, was achieved.
Rob Duguay Bass/ Head Teaching Artist, Jordan Piper - Piano/Assistant Teaching Artist, Jeanette Smith - IS383 Principal, Jay Seiden - About the Swing organization President, Nyasha Rhoden - Steelpan Director, Jesse Kucynski -Tenor Pan
As an added musical treat, the show’s attendees were treated to performances by the About Swing Trio - featuring Rob Duguay - Bass/ Head Teaching Artist, Jordan Piper - Piano/Assistant Teaching Artist and Jesse Kucynski - Tenor Pan.
When Steel Talks contacted About the Swing to acquire a deeper insight into their association with Philippa Schuyler Middle School. Here is a quick interview on the relationship.
WST - “Can you tell us a little bit about Jay Seiden and the ‘About the Swing Organization’?”
About the Swing - “Jay Seiden is the Managing Partner of Seiden & Schein, P.C., a New York City-based law firm, specializing in real estate. Jay is also the President and Founder of About the Swing, which is an organization Jay created to perpetuate jazz music by bringing live music instruction and concerts to public schools in the NYC area. About the Swing is now in its 7th year, and we’ve continued to expand our reach to new schools who are willing to take part in our interactive approach to music education.”
WST - “What is the affiliation between the About the Swing organization and IS 383 Steelpan Ensemble?”
About the Swing - “I.S. 383, is among About the Swing’s partner schools. The administration at I.S. 383 has gratefully accepted our organization’s help in advancing their already outstanding steelpan Ensemble. I.S. 383 is a shining example of the kind of schools we like to work with. Their administration is supportive of our mission, and work hard to ensure that the music instruction we provide is given the attention and reciprocation it deserves.”
The About the Swing Trio
WST - How long has the About the Swing Trio been in existence?
About the Swing - About the Swing works with tons of talented musicians. There is no specific About the Swing Trio. The trio of musicians (Rob Duguay, Jordan Piper, and Jesse Kuczynski) who worked on this most recent unit at I.S. 383, are all talented musicians in the jazz world, individually. They have come together for this special occasion to aid About the Swing in its efforts to bring our students extraordinary music talent and instruction. Rob Duguay has worked with several of our schools over our 7 year history, and is the Music Director of our organization.
“To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required”
Ms. Rhoden gave a very special mention of appreciation to Brooklyn’s Pantonic Steel Orchestra for partnering with and supporting the Philippa Schuyler Middle School (IS383) Steelpan Ensemble, by providing the group access to its instruments so that all the students could access quality steelpan instruments to practice and perform on.
Presentations at the Spring Showcase 2016
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