Cool Schools: C.A.F.E. Steel Drums

7:55 AM, Jun 10, 2011   |    comments
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HYATTSVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- The sound of steel drum music is enough to make anyone relax, but did you know it could help students with things like math in the classroom?

It's true, says high school sophomore Ian Laurenceau. "The syncopation and everything that goes with the music, it's like you have to count in your head, keep the beat."

Cultural Academy for Excellence, or C.A.F.E., in Prince George's County teaches students how to read music and play the steel drums.

If they get below a C average in class, they are out of the after school program.

Grammy nominated trumpet player Etienne Charles believes in the program so much, he's been volunteering with the C.A.F.E. for 6 years. "It's about holistic, it's about complete education because art helps science...I had a French teacher who said repetition helps everything you do, I apply that to music."

The repetition, memorization, and discipline of steel drum music is proving positive in other ways -- training future lawyers. Teens who were once struggling in class are now so confident, they compete in the State of Maryland Mock Trial Competition.

C.A.F.E. Founder Lorna Green says, "It was the first time an after school program in the Maryland state mock trial...There were 34 schools and we came in fourteenth."

Apparently the time on stage helped their public speaking ability in the trial competition as well.

Ian Laurenceau, a Duvall High School sophomore, says, "At first I was nervous, then I kind of got out of it. I kind of got comfortable, once I realized what you had to do and what it was all about (kind of like performing on stage?) mmm hmmm."

Pretty Cool huh? To hear the beautiful sounds of the C.A.F.E. Steel drum band click on the video link.

They are performing Saturday, June 11, at the University of Maryland. Click here for more information.

If you have a Cool School e-mail Mike Hydeck your story ideas at coolschools@wusa9.com. Catch our Cool Schools reports every Friday morning at 5:45 a.m.

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