SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A free music program in Lackawanna County is teaching older veterans new tricks and bringing the joy of music back into their lives.

The sounds of the Caribbean are taking over the second floor of the Steamtown Mall: Steel drums. And the players making up this band are about as diverse as you can imagine.

It’s the Electric City Steel Drum Project. Players ten years and up are getting hands-on lessons in this percussion tradition, but it’s the veterans who are the special guests.

The idea came from a retired area music teacher who says it’s the perfect activity for vets who crave camaraderie and teamwork.

“You could have no musical experience and if you come in we will show you where the notes are. They’re written on the pans. If you read music that’s fine. If not, we teach the names of the notes and we show you how to play your part in the music by rote,” explained Frank Torquato, a retired music teacher.

“It’s a lot of fun to be with fellow musicians and non-musicians who learned how to play the instruments. And we produce a nice sound! Everybody’s happy and it’s a nice camaraderie that we share, especially with the veterans that we have,” said Nick Fata, an Air Force veteran.

Classes are open to all ages and all skill levels. You’ll learn how to play the steel drums, then join the ensemble to make music with others. This group will also perform concerts for local community events.

One veteran says he’s been a regular for six weeks now. He gave up playing music years ago, and is excited to be back in the mix. And he says it’s great for stress relief.

“It’s not just the music, but you get to take your frustrations out by beating on drums. Sounds funny, but it really works,” described Ed Faatz, an Air Force veteran.

Veterans play every Thursday at 5:00 p.m. Find all the information on playing with Steel of Honor at ecsteel.org.