jeff narell

Teaching has always been an integral part of Jeff’s musical odyssey, and he brings to it an impressive set of tools. He is fluent with all the voices of the steel orchestra and all the percussion instruments of the engine room (rhythm section), and he combines this with well honed skills in composition and arranging.

But beyond this, his patience, enthusiasm, and boundless energy for his subject have made him a well-loved and much sought-after music teacher. A credentialed music instructor, his resume includes a ten-year stint as Steel Band Director in the Jazz Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Photo of Jeff Narell
San Francisco Symphony's World Percussion Ensemble:
Jeff Narell, Eddie Marshall, John Santos, Artie Storch

He has also traveled to major universities and school programs across the country to present clinics and performances. Bringing the steel band into public elementary and high schools as an on-going alternative music program, Jeff has opened the door for the artform to gain mainstream acceptance and continues to work with music educators to further this cause. He has innovated a teaching method for students lacking reading notation skills to fast track groups into performance mode.

Narell has also developed steel band charts across a broad range of musical genres to satisfy the widest variety of musical tastes and skill levels, with Caribbean roots music as home base.

In addition Jeff has extensive experience bringing steel pans and percussion into the workplace environment to create group teambuilding via this extremely fun and gratifying activity.

Jeff teaching a class

“…thank you for your dedication, patience, and enthusiasm for expanding our students’ world to include the enjoyment of learning to play a musical instrument…Jeff, I cannot emphasize enough how fortunate we are to have you as a teacher!…you exemplify the quality teachers the children in our district need.…”
— Christine Carter, Superintendent, Reed School District, Tiburon, CA

“It was an historic AIM year! Your ensemble was the ‘shining star’ in our program! Your artistry and commitment to children touched the lives of more than 16,000 students in San Francisco – 16,000!… You successfully accomplished a music education program challenge unprecedented in the United States. We can all be proud!
— Sammi Madison, San Francisco Symphony Education Program Director

“What a wonderful, inspiring performance you and the Steel Band gave on Friday. You were absolutely meant to do this work. You do it beautifully and give great joy to so many. Thanks.”
— Lexie Siffert, Principal, Del Mar Middle School
Tiburon, CA

“Jeff Narell is one of those rare musicians who is able to both share his own talents with others while being equally gifted in the ability to teach others how to discover and explore their own musical abilities…it was not only the magic of the steel drums which caused so many young people to be drawn to Jeff’s program. More importantly, I have found that Jeff’s patience with people provided the positive atmosphere for his exciting steel drum program. I have watched Jeff work with one person or with fifty persons and each time his sensitivity to others and his ability to get the message across underscores his dynamic presentation.”
— Jim Eisenberg, Manager, Cazadero Music Camp, City of Berkeley, CA

“Just wanted to thank you for such an excellent and delightful assembly last Friday. We all had such a wonderful time and the kids told me it was the best Sierra assembly ever. The new teachers asked if all our assemblies were that great! There was a perfect balance between explaining and playing the music, including the audience and giving us the spirit of the drums.”
— Maddie Hogan, Musical Director, Sierra School
El Cerrito, CA

“The enthusiasm and energy [Jeff] has instilled in the Longfellow Arts and Technology Middle School Steel Drum Band is evident in every concert in which they have performed. Their off-campus performances have been a very effective recruiting tool for LATMS…[the band] is now an ambassador of good will…[Jeff] has brought an infectious spirit to LATMS with the Steel Drum Band, and the school and students are the richer for it.”
— Carl Brush
Principal, Longfellow Arts and Technology Middle School, Berkeley, CA

“Thank you for being such an awesome teacher. There is no way I could have as much fun in any other class. I am so lucky to have you as a steel pans teacher.”
— Katherine Rothschild, Student, DelMar Middle School, Tiburon, CA