Mat Britain, Adjunct Instructor of Steel Drums, led a group of 14 adult students from Vanderbilt’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institue (OLLI) to the island of Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean for a 10-day Steel Band Workshop in May, where he taught alongside world renowned steel pan performer/educator/composer Andy Narell.
Located in the small fishing village of Laborie, the Laborie Steel Pan Project helped coordinate activities to give the participants a true feel for island life, far from the swanky resorts found on the northern part of the island. Each day included a two-hour rehearsal, a masterclass, and excursions ranging from historical tours of a sugar mill and the village of Laborie to beach time and snorkeling.
Group meals were shared at local restaurants serving traditional cuisine, much of it caught that morning by the Laborie fishermen. “It was so refreshing to have zero fast food or chain restaurant options,” said Britain. “The workshop culminated in a video shoot of the songs the group learned which will be a great memento of the hard work everyone put into the music.
“We were truly immersed in this experience, from the music and intense rehearsals, to making friends in the community. It was a wonderful and enriching experience for us all.”