CRELLIN ELEMENTARY FEATURED IN DOCUMENTARY
Wings of a Dove
A locally produced documentary, WINGS OF A DOVE dives into a special project at Crellin Elementary School where the students, teaching staff, and volunteers joined together to build their own set of steel drums to expand their music program. Under the guidance of Kevin Martin, the school breaks new ground by building the instruments, learning to play them, and maintaining them using specialized tuning equipment.
Crellin Elementary School teaching principal, Dana McCauley developed an earlier working relationship with Martin this year after inviting him in January to teach her school’s students how to play the steel drums. Martin recently located his factory, Rockcreek Steel Drums, to Ocean City, Maryland where he makes the instruments as part of his teaching and musical performing career. He is one of roughly 100 steel drum makers worldwide, so bringing this specialized art form to Crellin was both unique and inspiring, according to McCauley. “Kevin and I clicked right away,” said McCauley. “He understood the way we teach at Crellin and he quickly became part of our teaching family.”
Music teacher, Heather Roth couldn’t agree more. “I was so impressed with how Kevin patiently worked with each and every student when they were learning to play the steel drums.” Roth had already launched Rhythm & Rubbish with the Crellin students which uses simple percussion instruments made from trash cans, road signs, and anything that will make a percussive noise. “I was thrilled to find out he was coming back to help us build our own drums so we can expand our current music program for the kids.”
Throughout the week, Martin led workshops in building the instruments from industrial metal drums that were generously donated to the school. What he referred to as “The Crellin Steel Drum Factory”, Martin helped students, teachers, and volunteers set up stations to hammer barrels, cut out stands, shape the notes, and tune each drum so they would be concert-ready by weeks-end. All the while, Martin also led classes instructing students and teachers to perform several songs for a Friday concert.
“I was so impressed with how organized and methodical Kevin’s process was,” said Roth. “He had the steps figured out and timed to get everything accomplished in such a short period of time.” The schedule was ambitious to build 15 steel drums in just five days. Martin brought his own set of steel drums on which students could practice and rehearse while their own set was being manufactured.
“This was an amazing experience for all of us at Crellin,” said McCauley. “Everyone really stepped up to make this happen.” McCauley expressed gratitude for all the volunteers and donations that made the week possible. Samantha Funding the Arts, Railey Mountain Vacations, Metikki, and several individuals all donated their time, money, and talent to see the program through to the end. “Volunteerism is a hallmark at Crellin,” she continues. “Without our parent and community support, none of the ambitious things we do would be possible.”
Documenting the program was not part of McCauley’s original plan, however, last Fall, Mark Stutzman, President of Engage Mountain Maryland, contacted her about shooting a short video to share the school’s agricultural program. He wanted it to be part of the RAISED ON RURAL video series on the nonprofit’s YouTube channel. “I heard what they were doing and found it fascinating,” said Stutzman. “Experiential learning is something that can be difficult to work into mandated school rigors so I wanted to see how Dana was doing it, and with such success.”
At the time the two first made contact, the growing season was coming to a close and video opportunities were fading. McCauley said she would contact Stutzman if something popped up that would be of special interest. The steel drum workshop filled the bill and gave new purpose to the original video concept.
"When I got to the school and began the initial interviews, I realized this story was much bigger than my usual ten to fifteen-minute short stories,” explained Stutzman. “Each day something new was unfolding so I just kept coming back to record the process.” In total, Stutzman said he had roughly four hours of video to sort through. “At that point, I realized I had enough content to tell a much bigger story.”
The final edits resulted in a 90-minute feature-length raw documentary that follows the process of building the steel drums as well as what happens at Crellin Elementary School on a daily basis. “After seeing the film,” says McCauley, “I realized it was about so much more than building drums. It’s about supporting each other, community, philosophies about teaching, and a passion for learning.”
The morning showtime at Garrett 8 Cinemas will allow all 134 Crellin students to attend the premier as a field trip outing. “We want to invite everyone to attend but especially educators and those interested in arts education,” said Roth. “Music is a special way of connecting with students. There’s a lot we learned in that one short week that I'm anxious for others to see."