Steel Pan Ensemble

Steel pan player's hands

Music 2207.02 (1 credit)

(Performing Ensemble)

Instructor: Jason Buchea

Prerequisites: Open to non-majors. No previous musical experience required.

Offered Autumn 2023
Afternoon and evening sections available.
Tuesdays 12:40–1:35 and 6:30–7:25 p.m.

Refer to the Course Catalog for semesters offered and delivery mode.


Steel pan ensembles originated in Trinidad in the 1930s, when local musicians began to repurpose discarded oil barrels and transform them into melodic instruments. Closely associated with the island’s Carnival culture, “steel bands” would soon become the national music of Trinidad, and a marker of Caribbean identity, across the region and throughout the world. Steel bands have now become a fixture in university and other educational settings for their ability to create community through the experience of collective musical performance and cultural immersion.  

In this course, students will learn standard steel pan technique, gain fluency in Caribbean rhythms, and perform classic Calypso and Soca repertoire and original arrangements created by the instructor or collectively as an ensemble. The university is fortunate to have its own set of steel pans for students to play, but those playing other steel-band instruments, including vocalists, drummers, bassists, guitarists and horn players, are strongly encouraged to join as well.

Open to everyone on campus, regardless of background, experience or skill level.

Jason Buchea

Jason Buchea has led college-level African drumming ensembles for more than a decade. He has lived in Senegal, where he currently researches local drumming traditions. He is a longtime collaborator of tama virtuoso Massamba Diop, the lead percussionist for Afropop singer Baaba Maal, and main drummer in the Black Panther films. Jason is currently Music Director for Diop's role as “Talking Drum Soloist” on the touring live-to-picture show Black Panther In Concert.