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2022 Conference

NSSBE 2022 Professional Conference
Follow-up Article / Dr. Chris Tanner
March 10, 2022
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On February 25, 2022, the National Society of Steel Band Educators hosted their annual
Professional Conference in Summerville, South Carolina. The conference brought
individuals from seventeen different states across the nation together, to engage in
professional development and foster connections between practitioners. The event was
organized by NSSBE’s Conference Planning Committee, chaired by Mike Greer, who teaches
pan at DuBose Middle School in Summerville. The committee also included Yuko Asada
(Northern Illinois University), Dr. Kayleen Justus (Leon County High School, Tallahassee,
FL), Obe Quarless (Seattle, WA), and John Willmarth (Summerville High School).
The Conference Program can be found here: 2022 NSSBE Conference Program. Presenters
included Daron Roberts, Josanne Francis, David Aarons, Steve Lawrie, and Dr. Andrew
Martin. The headliner for the event was Andre White, a pannist and composer/arranger
from Trinidad & Tobago, who resides in New York City. Andre’s clinic was participatory: he
taught an arrangement of a Trinidadian calypso tune to the attendees, entirely by rote, in
just over an hour. Through this session, the attendees were afforded a glimpse into the
mind of an expert arranger, as Andre crafted the piece in real time, as the participants
learned it.
The day began with an engine room clinic by Daron Roberts, who demonstrated a number
of drumset grooves, and had the participants on their feet for an exercise in “chipping:”
keeping time by moving one’s feet to the pulse of the groove. In the second session, Daron
was joined by Josanne Francis and David Aarons on a panel discussion, in which the
panelists – all culture-bearers from the Caribbean – discussed their perspectives on
steelpan history and culture, and how these topics can be addressed in US-based
ensembles.
Josanne Francis presented an interactive session on examining steel band repertoire,
breaking the attendees into small groups to discuss pertinent issues. Next, an informative
lecture-demonstration on maintaining one’s pans was provided by tuner Steve Lawrie. Dr.
Andrew Martin’s session focused on ways to incorporate steelpan and Caribbean history
into rehearsals.
The conference closed with a performance by members of the Green Wave Steel Band from
Summerville High School, directed by Willmarth. Both Daron Roberts and Andre White
were featured, and the students performed several of Andre’s original compositions. “To
perform at a national conference for a knowledgeable and appreciative audience along with
two amazing guest artists is a high-water mark for our program and an experience the
students will never forget,” said Willmarth. “We are truly grateful and honored to have had
this opportunity.”