Mayville Steel Drum Bands

Mayville, Wisconsin, is the home of the first complete steel drum band in a Wisconsin school. High school band director, Ben Reehl, was inspired by a steel drum workshop he attended in 1991 to give his students a chance to play the drums. With the help of Cliff Alexis, a builder/tuner at Northern Illinois University at DeKalb, Illinois, he built several drums that Cliff tuned. Additional drums were purchased with contributions from the community, and a performing group was formed in 1992.

Reehl retired from his full-time teaching position but continues to direct the bands on a part-time basis. At present there are
three bands made up of high school students, two middle school bands, a sixth grade band, and an adult group. The bands perform in a number of settings: concerts, school assemblies, business functions, conventions, community music series, music festivals, special events, churches, and weddings.

The groups have been featured in articles in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, and Fond du Lac Reporter and have appeared on Channel 12 and Channel 6 in Milwaukee and Channel 3 in Madison. Among their more memorable performances are: Disney World in Florida, Universal Studios in Florida, a cruise ship, Wisconsin State School Board Convention, the opening of the Badger State Games, the Wisconsin Music Educators Convention, Beloit RiverFest, Oconomowoc Festival of the Arts, Marian College Heritage Fest, Janesville Summer Music Series, and Wautoma Music Series.

Reehl has built some of the drums himself and has worked with some of the top builders in the field who also supplied drums. He writes and arranges most of the music. He makes a special effort to explain and demonstrate the history and development of these unique instruments whenever possible.

The groups perform a wide variety of musical styles--from classical, to pop and rock, to Caribbean melodies. They have produced two tapes and three CDs.


Alumni Photos

We've chosen some pictures which represent our steel drum program from 1992 to the present. These groups have set the standard for all future bands. Click on the thumbnail photo below to view the larger version.


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