Barrels to Beethoven

About the Organization 

Founded by Leigh Solomon Pugliano in 2014, Barrels to Beethoven is dedicated to preservation of the steelpan through inspiring educational programs and innovative manufacturing techniques. We provide engaging, entertaining, and interactive opportunities for the public, especially young people, to learn the history of the steelpan, the building and tuning process, music theory, performance skills, and playing technique. 

Our mission is to provide impactful arts education, teach accurate historical and cultural content, and inspire a new generation of steelpan builders, tuners, players, and teachers.

Barrels to Beethoven utilizes creative placemaking strategies to build community, engage residents, and present a more expansive image of what Black art is and where it comes from. In the Caribbean, the steelpan is a means of expression, creativity, innovation, access, competition, celebration, and connection. Our work follows the steelpan tradition of inherently collaborative and community-oriented art, based on principles of justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe music, making, and the arts to be an anchor of community connectedness– facilitating wellness, belonging, resilience, and joy. Our programs and curriculum are based on acute knowledge of steelpan history, data-driven music education techniques, and youth development expertise. Youth who participate in our steelpan education programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, self awareness, and increase self-esteem.

About the Steelpan

The steelpan is a handmade musical instrument built from a 55-gallon steel barrel. The steelpan is a family of musical instruments ranging from the tenor or lead steelpan (highest octaves) to the bass steelpan (lowest octaves). The steel band movement began as a way for Afro-Caribbean people to make music while challenging their society’s economic and culturally oppressive systems. After the banning and condemnation of many Afro-Caribbean art forms and cultural rituals, the steelpan emerged as a near perfect representation of a colonized, but resilient people, using both rhythm and melodic tones to create music.

Upcoming Events!

June 25th: Performance – Summer at the Station

901 Hay Street, Wilkinsburg

This summer, connect with community members, leaders, and organizations while enjoying free live music, activities, and food & drink vendors!

July 16th: Interactive demo & performance – Inside Out Event

Carnegie Museum of Art

Join us on Saturday, July 16 at 1 and 2:30 p.m. in the Sculpture Court for steelpan percussion performances by Barrels to Beethoven. In between performances, DJ Femi will soundtrack an afternoon full of eating, drinking, art-making, and summer fun.

Program Offerings and Workshops

We offer a broad range of learning opportunities for folks of all ages, including:

Instrumental Instruction: Individual, Group, Adult Band, and Youth Ensemble.

Steelpan in the Classroom: A curriculum developed specifically for ages 8-14 and brought into the school classroom. Sessions can be developed from six week to year-long courses.

Pan Camp: A week-long summer camp for youth ages 8-14. During the week children are introduced to the steelpan, taught steelpan technique, the history and culture of the instrument and performance skills. At the end of the week, the camp puts on a performance for family and friends!

Pan Builders Education: An in-depth course on building and tuning the steelpan that will help to develop a newly skilled generation of builders and tuners.

Let’s Play Pan: Adult workshops and team building programs.