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Black History Month – Steel Pans

The Steelpan originates from Trinidad and Tobago and its history can be traced back to the 1700s.

Steelpans have been developed in a variety of sizes, with the bigger bass pans playing the lower notes and the bass lines, and the smaller soprano pans playing the melody lines (the tune).

The roots of the instrument can be traced back to Africans, who when forcibly moved to the Caribbean to work, found ingenious and creative ways to keep making and enjoying their music.

The modern steelpan (as it looks now) is dated from around the 1930s.

The first steelpan band to perform in the UK were the ‘Trinidad All-Steelpan Percussion Orchestra.’

They performed at the Festival of Britain in July 1951 and were the first group to take the steelpan worldwide.

Steelpan bands have been an important part of British music education since 1969.

Within a few years, steelpan music started to grow in the UK. The first steelpan band to participate in the Notting Hill Carnival was the Russ Henderson band.

By 1969, there were more bands starting to emerge and in the same year, Islington Green School started the first school steel band under the guidance and teaching of Gerald Forsyth MBE.

We are really proud of all of our UoB School steelpan bands, who perform regularly in School, represent us at events, play for the University, and at concerts and competitions.

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