Steel drum band plays for NAIS and Disneyland

Mar 29, 2019 | Culture, Music, News, On Campus


eparting the San Mateo campus at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, the steel drum band rode down to Anaheim, California, in a big tour bus, listening to rap music to pass time during the seven-and-a-half-hour drive.

After being accepted to perform at the 2019 National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference, Nueva’s steel drum band, consisting of 31 students and seven faculty, played a 25-minute set of five songs as an entrance to keynote presenter and award-winning actress Viola Davis before bussing off to their scheduled performance at Disneyland later that day.

The director of the steel drum band for 16 years, Jim Munzenrider, submitted a video of the band for consideration and heard back with an acceptance in early November.

“We performed on a huge, huge stage with video screens,” Munzenrider said. “It was like a professional rock concert basically, [with] big sound systems and cool lights [that changed] colors.”

“All of it was very upbeat and very flashy cause that’s what they wanted at the NAIS,” Munzenrider recalled. “They wanted people to get all jacked up and excited so the repertoire that I chose for those was in your face, loud, and really cool sounding tunes.”

The band rehearsed for hours and hours—including “hectic and challenging late nights” according to Jack Brasesco (11), who has been playing steel drums since second grade—and Munzenrider told the band how proud he was of them because of how good they sounded and how much time they spent rehearsing.

It was really a group effort that everyone was really on board with. Everyone contributed and it couldn’t have run smoother.

Jim Munzenrider

Music Teacher and Steel Band Teacher

Following the concert, Munzenrider saw that NAIS attendees were tweeting about how good the concert was. He said that it seemed like they were playing at a Taylor Swift concert.

“It was so funny to be standing there as I led them onto the stage,” Munzenrider said. “You come out and you see this thing, and everybody’s walking by me going like, ‘Oh my god, oh my god, this is amazing’—they rose to the occasion big time.”

“It was such a cool thing. It’s Disneyland,” said Miles Grewell (11), who plays double seconds on the steel drums. “I get to tell people for the rest of my life that I performed at Disneyland—and that’s like, super rad.”