Custom Program: May Term in Trinidad
Music, Culture, and Community in Trinidad
Explore the social, cultural, and political landscape of one of the Caribbean’s most ethnically diverse nations, while working firsthand with local experts to learn and perform steelpan music and other Carnival Arts traditions.
This is a hybrid course that includes two weeks in Trinidad with three weeks of online course work prior to departure and another two weeks upon return to the United States. In Trinidad students will be based at the Exodus Steel Orchestra Panyard in the Tuna Puna area of Port of Spain. Students should also expect a significant amount of travel throughout the island. Daily schedules will include steelband rehearsals led by local steelpan experts, discussions and lectures (all in English) led by local practitioners of the Carnival Arts (Mas, Calypso, Moko Jumbie), and field visits that highlight the cultural, political, and environmental diversity of Trinidad and Tobago.
Topics & Themes
Music Performance, Ethnomusicology, Anthropology, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Globalization, African & African American Studies, Nationalism, Gender Equality, Transmigration and Diaspora Studies, Education Systems, National Identity and Community Building, History of Colonization in the Caribbean, Tourism and its Impacts on Local Communities, Youth Development.
Terms & Dates
May 1-June 15, 2019
6 semester credits, depending on your institution.
The steelpan (sometimes called “steel drum”), perhaps more than any other instrument symbolizes the cultural, political, and economic shockwaves unleashed by European colonization of the Caribbean. Fashioned out of recycled 55-gallon oil barrels, the steelpan reflects both the cultural genius of the African diaspora in the Americas, and the exploitative orientation of our global capitalist system. This brutal alchemy of slavery, colonization, steel, and oil spawned one of the Caribbean’s most vibrant and recognizable musical traditions.
Invented in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930s, the steelpan has cultural and musical roots in West African drumming and bamboo-stomping ensembles called “Tamboo Bamboo,” which historically provided parade music for Afro-Trinidadians during Carnival. Perhaps Trinidad’s greatest contribution to the global steelband movement, however, may be its use as a vehicle for youth empowerment. Panyards in Trinidad are often dedicated community safe spaces. This forges connections between steelbands and local communities, nurturing a sense of self-worth and community pride.
This custom HECUA program is a hybrid course that includes two weeks in Trinidad with three weeks of online course work prior to departure and another two weeks upon return to the United States. While in Trinidad, students are based at the Exodus Steel Orchestra Panyard in the Tuna Puna area. There, students are introduced to some of Trinidad’s most prominent steelpan musicians, composers, and producers as part of their own creative and collective musical participation in Afro- and Indo-Caribbean music. Non-western musical instruction will be complemented by daily seminars focused on the Carnival Arts (Mas, Calypso, Moko Jumbie), and field visits that highlight the cultural, political, and environmental diversity of Trinidad and Tobago. Special attention will be devoted to how steelpan communities have seized this cultural resource as a tool for youth development, community organizing, and economic empowerment.
Staff and Faculty
Andrew R. Martin, Ph.D., is Professor of Music at Inver Hills College, St. Paul, Minnesota where he teaches courses in music history, music analysis, percussion, and directs the African music ensemble and steelband. Martin is a sought-after clinician throughout the United States and Internationally and he is Director of Steelbands for Twin Cities Carifest. Martin’s research explores Globalization, Caribbean Music and Movements, Tourism, American music, and popular and folk music and musicians during the Cold War. He has published widely on the above topics and presented numerous lectures and conference papers throughout the United States, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, and China. His research has appeared in several print sources including the journals American Music, Pan Podium: The Journal of the British Steel Band Society, The Journal of New York Folklore, and in reference works such as the Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is the author of the books Steelpan Ambassadors: The US Navy Steel Band 1957-1999 and Steelpan in Education: A History of the Northern Illinois University Steelband. Since 2011, Martin has written a semi-regular newspaper column “Pan Worldwide” in the Trinidad Guardian.
You’ll find the complete projected syllabus for the 2018 Trinidad custom program here.
Internships are not possible during this program, because of its length.
This program costs $3,900. Round trip airfare to and from Trinidad, ground travel to field sites, food, lodging, and medical insurance are included.
Good to Know
This is a hybrid course that includes melds online course work and time onsite. Students complete three weeks of online course work prior to travel to Port of Spain, and another two weeks upon return to the U.S.
The program will follow the schedule outlined below:
- May 1-17: online coursework
- May 18-June 3: Tuna Puna Trinidad
- June 4-17: online coursework
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