emily lemmerman

Barracuda Steel Drums, Owner
Primary Builder and Tuner

Emily Lemmerman is a professional pan builder and tuner, the first woman to tune for Panorama in Trinidad, the only woman to tune for any Panorama worldwide, and the first American to tune for Trinidad’s large band category.

As a professional pan tuner, Emily Lemmerman has uncommon access to and perspective on the global steelband landscape. She travels to work with bands around the world- not only as a tuner, but also as an educator, clinician, adviser, and performer.  With a formal background in classical music, after a full-time, six-year apprenticeship with Ellie Mannette, and with over 20 years of experience in the field, Emily is one of few people intensively immersed in the broad range of major steelband communities that exist around the world. Emily is a passionate advocate for collaboration and celebration of the diversity that enriches the many successful pan programs that bring joy to communities across the nation. She is very active internationally, working regularly in the Caribbean and Europe. Emily is a charter member of the NSSBE steering committee and serves as Assistant Editor for its newsletter.


Emily first played a steel pan in 1994 during her percussion studies at Ithaca College with Gordon Stout and Ted Rounds. Her love of the instrument led her out of the orchestra and into the panyard. This path led her to Appalachia, the adopted home of Trinidadian and renowned steelband craftsman Dr. Ellie Mannette. She traveled to West Virginia to attend his annual summer workshops and perform with many of the great artists in the steelband community. These experiences influenced her work back at Ithaca, where she began her advocacy of the steel drum as an orchestral instrument. After earning her performance degree in 1998, she moved to Morgantown to study steel drum construction with Dr. Mannette, whose symphonic vision of the instrument continues to inform and inspire her work.

Lemmerman apprenticed with Dr. Mannette and worked for his company full-time from 1998-2004. Here, she honed her building and tuning skills and served as the director of his steelband workshop for four successful seasons. After leaving Morgantown for Austin in 2004, she remained lifelong friends with Ellie.

Emily has played in many Panoramas- in London, New York, St. Vincent, Antigua, and Trinidad, performing on Quadrophonic, 9-Bass, 4-Cello, Double Seconds, Tenor, or playing rhythm. She performed for many years with the Invaders Steel Orchestra- the band that Dr Mannette founded in 1937- and was proud to be a member of the 2009 Panorama champion Silver Stars Orchestra. She has also enjoyed playing with Power Stars, Skiffle Steel Orchestra, Tokyo Steel Orchestra, Katzenjammers, and the Harvard Harps in Trinidad and Tobago, Croydon Steel Orchestra in London, Crossfire in New York Panorama, with the South East Steel Orchestra in St Vincent and with the West Side Symphony in Antigua.

Emily has tuned for the Croydon Steel Orchestra in London Panorama since 2011, and in 2013 she broke the glass ceiling when she was hired as the first woman to tune for Panorama in Trinidad, and the first American to tune in the large band category, blending for Ray Holman and the Skiffle Steel Orchestra from San Fernando during the great year of “Sapna”- for which she also performed in competition. She travels extensively to tune, perform, and clinic with steelbands globally, from Switzerland to Barcelona to Laventille to Seattle. She has tuned for Antigua's West Side Symphony since 2015, and for Panorama in 2017, she tuned for Boogsie Sharpe and the mighty Phase II Pan Groove.

Emily Lemmerman lives in Austin, Texas with her toddler twins. She continues to build and tune steel drums in the style of Dr. Ellie Mannette, and strives to achieve the level of excellence he so passionately modelled. It is in honor of Dr. Mannette, his support, and his impact on her life that she chose the name “Barracuda” - a legendary instrument of his design - for her company.

Examples of her tuning can be heard in many places, including Austin, Texas, Denton, Texas, London, England, Barcelona, Spain, New York City, Seattle, Washington, and in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Emily Lemmerman also works prolifically as a composer, arranger, clinician, lecturer, and advocate for the art form. She is published by Boxfish Music and founded Austin's vibrant Inside Out Steelband Camp in 2007. Her composition “Mesa Drive” was featured at the New Music Showcase at PASIC 2017. She has served as a clinician at many different programs, including the Ellie Mannette Festival of SteelCroydon Steel OrchestraUniversity of North Texas, the University of the West Indies, and the McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy in Austin. She has served as a judge at the Virginia Arts Festival PanFest Panorama contest, and arranged for its mass band workshop. Emily’s library project, which collects unpublished charts from composers around the world, is helping to preserve music from the ephemeral Panorama seasonal traditions, and strives to promote more diversity of voices within our community. Emily regularly acts an an advisor and resource for research projects internationally. She presented at PASIC 2019 a showcase concert entitled the “Ellie Mannette Memorial Symphony of Steel.”

Read more about Emily in the Trinidad Guardian, Tom Tom Magazine, on Dr. Jeffrey Jones' Panorama blog, the Swiss Steelband publication PANCH in October 2014, February 2015, (search for LEMMERMAN to find the archived newsletters) and PANCH in 2018 (search MANNETTE to read the eulogy she wrote for Ellie for this German newsletter.) She is also interviewed by Pan Magazine, and When Steel Talks, and once more recently in the Trinidad Guardian. She can be heard on episodes #134 and #135 of Pete Zambito’s Percussion Podcast, and is recognized as the first female pan tuner in Angela Smith’s textbook Steel Drums and Steelbands - A History.

inside out and CJ Menge

Inside Out Steelband, Director

CJ Menge studied classical percussion at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has been playing steel drums professionally for over twenty years.

Menge established the Inside Out Steel Pan Project Arts-in-Education program in 1996 in Austin, TX. Menge has founded steelband programs in several Austin schools, some of which boast multiple bands and daily, curricular rehearsals. Menge’s workshops, performances, and Artist-in-Residence programs have directly inspired and impacted other steelbands, which number no fewer than fifteen bands in ten local schools.

Menge founded the Inside Out Community Steelband in 2000 to give Central Texans the opportunity to participate in steelband outside of school. This program consists of four bands with students ranging in age from 12 to 65. Presenting over 75 performances and reaching an audience of over 150,000 annually, each spring they are featured in a formal concert alongside internationally known guest artists.

In 2007, Menge established Inside Out Steelband Music, which later became Boxfish Music, to publish new music for steelband by a range of composers. His original music is a strong marriage of playability and thoughtful compositional construction. Having contributed over 100 new compositions and arrangements to the existing steelband library, this prolific work is a rich source of accessible new compositions and arrangements.

As a central figure in the Austin steelband community, CJ Menge’s leadership unifies and gives focus to its musical efforts, and his expertise and inclusive nature inspire and enrich its experience.