The modern pan is a chromatically pitched percussion
instrument made from 55 gallon drums that formerly contained oil. Drum refers
to the steel drum containers from which the pans are made; the steel drum is
more correctly called a steel pan or pan as it falls into the idiophone family
of instruments, and so is not a drum which is a membranophone. The pan is
struck using a pair of straight sticks tipped with rubber; the size and type of
rubber tip varies according to the class of pan being played. Since Pythagoras
calculated the formula for the musical cycle of fourths and fifths, Steel Pans
are the only instruments made to follow this configuration.
Cottonwood students begin steel pan instruction in the
fourth grade, with world beat percussionist Frank Leto, and continue through
the sixth grade. Mr. Leto arranges music for the pan that is current and easily
understood by the listener, and teaches his students the responsibilities and
joyful satisfaction of playing in an ensemble.
Frank Leto, Steel Band Director
Frank Leto, a former Montessori teacher, music teacher and professional musician, is the percussion director at Cottonwood School. Frank works with Toddlers through sixth graders while overseeing the steel drum bands. The Cottonwood School Steel Bands consists of 4th, 5th and 6th graders and Cottonwood staff.
Frank studied music at Wayne State University in Michigan. He subsequently taught in Montessori schools in the Virgin Islands and Hawaii after receiving his Montessori teacher certification. From these experiences he acquired a multi-cultural approach to teaching music which is reflected in his children’s recordings and Time for Music songbook. Frank’s love for Caribbean music has taken him to Puerto Rico, Brazil and Cuba to study their folkloric music. He has played with many well-known musicians from the Caribbean and Brazil. He currently enjoys composing and performing world beat music with his band, Pandemonium in New Mexico.
He has produced six children’s CDs, two of them winners of the Early Childhood News Directors’ Choice award in 1998 and 2000. He recently completed three video tapes of songs and dances for children at school or at home. Frank composes and arranges delightful songs for young children, and performs in school and family concerts throughout the country. To order Frank's CDs go to www.frankleto.com
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