Roscommon High School’s Steel Drum Syndicate Is Marching To The Beat Of Their Own Drum

“These actually have a pitch to them so you can play melodies, you can play harmonies, you can play chords with them.”

Steel drums– Kilbourn

A steel pan that’s played using sticks with rubber tips, creating a unique sound. And you can say Seth Kilbourn’s heartbeat sounds more like— a drum beat.

“I think I’ve been doing steel band at best guess 22-23 years. This is huge for me because I can say that I did this from scratch,” says Kilbourn.

Kilbourn is the instrumental music teacher and band director at Roscommon High School.

He started the Steel Drum Syndicate made up of different band students.

“Once everyone’s out here and ready to roll, there’s going to be about 44 kids between steel drums, drums and guitars, and then the horn players.”

Making sure that everyone’s involved.

Seth says, “The kids that aren’t in steel band, still play. Like they play their primary instrument whether it’s trombone, or trumpet, or tuba….The kids that are playing the horns, I tried to also really bring them in as a part of this too and not just as an afterthought, really write thoughtful parts for them. So they feel like they’re a part of this experience.”

And instead of playing traditional island music, their sound is a little more unconventional…

Marching to the beat of their own drum…

Drums“Mr. K he composes everything himself,” says sophomore student, Riley Maczik.

Kilbourn explains, “I don’t want to say almost exclusively rock, but it’s pretty close. Right now we’re doing music by Rush, Led Zeppelin, The Dewey Brothers, Phil Collins, it’s just this wide gamina of different selection.”

The Steel Drum Syndicate is the only band in the state with full sets of instruments for both the middle school and the high school.

With so many exciting things they’re accomplishing this year…

“We were just at the St. Louis Festival of Steel. We’re headed to Cleveland to perform at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. This will be our second appearance there. And then our radio show on June first, Q100, has been another great sponsor and promoter of this group in particular. We would love to fill this 500 seat auditorium with live bodies,” says Kilbourn.

Something that’s really special to Kilbourn is that his son and daughter are also a part of the Steel Drum Syndicate, rockin’ side by side with their dad.

Kilbourn’s daughter, Meredith, says, “I’m really proud of my dad, I always have proud that I get to be a part of this entity that he’s created.”

“I have been blessed with wonderful wonderful students. I’m extremely blessed right now as a teacher and a father that both my children are standing in this band right now as we speak. I had to wait a long time for that,” says Kilbourn.

Meredith tells us, “My favorite part about being in this band is that I have gotten to do a lot of things that a lot of other kids haven’t gotten to do.  It’s just stories that I’ll be able to tell farther on down the road that I know other people won’t have.”

To Kilbourn, this band takes on a new meaning of grateful… Band

“I’ve been doing this 27 years. I never thought that I would stay here. I thought I was going to put a few years in and then go East Coast, West Coast, Nashville. My dream was to be a rock ‘n’ roll drummer or studio drummer. I took this job, I found that I love working with kids, I found that I love seeing them achieve and I realized that I wasn’t half bad at it. But this truly is my baby…but without these kids that are standing behind me, I wouldn’t have this,” says Kilbourn.

But one thing’s for sure…

Maczik says, “If you haven’t heard us, come and listen.”

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