CultureMix logo

How to Set Up a Steel Band

When local musicians from the tiny Caribbean island of Trinidad created different notes on a discarded oil drum in the early 1930's they could never have imagined the worldwide popularity and growth that was to follow.

Now steel bands have sprung up in all continents, and in the UK there are many towns and cities with a set of steel pan instruments (steel drums) either in a school, as part of a community project or a steel band.

CultureMix Arts is an organisation specialising in all aspects of steel pan music.
We offer advice on setting up your own steel band and provide:
Instruments, from affordable starter sets to tailor made bespoke.
Accessories including stands, PanStiX, cases and storage solutions.
Tutors for workshops, demonstrations and presentations.
Tuners to help keep your instruments in tip top condition.
Training for those considering a creative career.
Steel Bands for your function or event.

Our showcase orchestra RASPO, widely promotes steel pan music with it's ensembles (steel bands) entertaining audiences at all types of events.

But what makes steel pans so popular? In my experience the two reasons that stand out are its immediacy and accessibility. Similarly to a piano, a simple phrase on steel pan is quick and easy to learn.

The steel pan instruments are welcoming and approachable for all age groups and abilities making it relatively easy to produce music that is satisfying to the player.

Download this FREE Birthplace of Steel Pan Poster - see Related Links top right

Download this FREE Birthplace of Steel Pan Poster - see Related Links top right

Girl playing pan

Why set up a Steel Band?

Schools set up steel bands as an ideal group-learning activity enhancing cohesion and diversity.

Our guide explains the process from sourcing your instruments to setting up your project. More...

Boy on guitars

Where can I buy Steel Pans? - How much do they cost?

We offer some helpful tips to get the best instruments at an affordable price. More...

Bass pan detail

Which Instruments? - How many pans do I need?

This guide explains the range of instruments and an ideal starter set. More...

Pan cases

Accessories & Maintenance - Looking after your Steel Pans

Keeping you steel pans in tip top condition. More...

Mary on drums

Setting up the Steel Band - Organising the Project

A practical guide to setting up the steel band More...

Pan hands close up

Handling Steel Pans - Playing Techniques

How to handle your instruments safely, hold your sticks correctly and other tips... More...

Steel pan

Steel Pan Facts - A Summary of Useful Information

Want to know more about the steel pan instrument? Click here for a quick list of useful facts. More...

Dudley tuning

How Steel Pans are Made - Tuning and Blending

Making, tuning and blending steel pans is a craft requiring a good ear, tuning tools and patience.

Skilled tuners are a rare breed who spend years perfecting their craft. Read more about the process... More...

"CultureMix kept me informed every step of the way and the quality of the instruments is second to none"

Sarah Cooper - Head Teacher

Oxford Gardens Primary School, London

Set up a Steel Band


With the help of this comprehensive guide, setting up a steel band for your primary, secondary, special school, college or group couldn't be easier.

Steel Pan Notes

C Tenor notes

The notes on the steel pan instruments have a range similar to those on a grand piano.

This graphic shows the standardised note layout for a tenor (melody) pan starting from low D.