Teacher's steely determination

Published: 28 Dec 2012 09:000 comments

THE determination of one music teacher has meant audiences will soon have the chance to close their eyes and listen to the sound of the Caribbean - despite still being in Clackmannanshire.

Lornshill Academy's soon to be formed 'Ochil Steel Band' will be arriving with a bang, after 30 steel drums were delivered on Wednesday from the Caribbean island of Trinidad.

The band is the brainchild of Lornshill Academy music teacher, Maureen Howitt, who managed to obtain the drums thanks to a lottery grant from the 'Awards for All' scheme.

Maureen, originally from Florida, has four years experience performing in a professional steel drum ensemble and 20 years experience as a percussionist. She has always dreamed of running a steel band and plans to spearhead the steel band to assure that they reach the highest level of musicianship allowed.

Since moving to Scotland in 2005 Maureen thought about how she could fundraise to get the drums, but with budgets tightening each year and the high expense of the drums, it seemed unlikely to ever get started.

But when she took up a teaching post at Lornshill Academy, her dream was set to become a reality, and it came one step closer with the arrival of the drums.

Maureen had heard about 'Awards for All' last May and was hopeful her idea might have a chance, so after getting the go-ahead from head teacher, Peter Allan, she proceeded with the application in August.

Both Maureen and the pupils were delighted when they found out it had been successful only a

month later.

The Ochil Steel Drum project will provide an opportunity to bring the community together with the band available to play at local charity fundraising initiatives. And the music teacher has managed to source £10,000 worth of high quality drums from a provider 'Steel Pan International' in Trinidad, who on Wednesday kindly hand delivered them to the Clackmannanshire school.

The project will officially kick off on 8th January with two bands, one after school on Tuesdays and the other on Wednesdays at 4pm. Participants can choose either group to experience the Caribbean drums, all ages are welcome and no experience is required. There will also be a group for Additional Support Needs pupils during the day.

As the drums arrived at the school, they were welcomed by education convener, councillor Ellen Forson, who was joined by an assembly for all pupils currently enrolled in a music course.

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