from the blog.

What I Learned at School

I recently completed a two-week artist-in-residency at the Rutland Intermediate School, teaching over 500 students about the steel pan.  It was a great experience, full of insights gained from my interactions with the kids.

Here are a few of my take-aways:

Use the Energy of your Audience

All it takes is one eager participant to spread motivation among an entire group. Oftentimes, we hear the opposite — that one bad apple spoils the bunch — but genuine enthusiasm is also contagious. When you recognize positive energy as it walks into the room, that is a gift.

Look for it, use it, build on it, and notice how a genuine and vibrant learning culture gets created.

Deliver Worthwhile Content

The kids asked great questions as I talked about the steel pan and its origins.  Was I born in Trinidad? (No.) Did I make the pans? (No.) Would I use my pans for cooking? (No.) Do we get to play those things? (Yes.)

If your content is interesting, engagement comes naturally.


Follow-through is Key

Don’t say you’ll do something unless you are prepared to do it.  Early on in the residency there was a student who asked if I could play Under the Sea. We were out of time, but I told the student to remind me the following week. 29 classes later, at the end of the first week, I had no idea who had asked. But I knew enough to be prepared.  The second week rolled around and the student who wanted to hear Under the Sea came bubbling into the music room. I played the opening of the song, the kids started smiling and singing, and that set the tone for the class.

You may also like

Top 10 List

A top ten list of why your team should participate in a Calypso Steel Drum Workshop: 10. It’s fun tapping a steel drum, which sounds like a kitchen pan, only more exotic 9.   Finally, something to drown out the helicopter pad 8.   There will be plenty of Instagram moments 7.   Saying “yah […]

Calypso Connections & Friends

Sometimes, meeting up with an old friend and enjoying a beautiful autumn day together is the best kind of collaboration out there. Diana Jordan, certified professional dog trainer and owner of PupStart in North Yarmouth, Maine, plays with Jango and me at the Clarendon Gorge. Super fun!

Old-Fashioned Team Building Never Looked So Good

China is moving swiftly toward algorithmic governance.  Among other things, this means that faces of jay walkers and people who are late in their payments are projected on billboard-sized screens, for everyone to see. If this causes you to cringe, pay attention because corporate America is not far behind. Take a look at Yva, for […]