School vacation sometimes leads idle hands to mischief but more than a dozen children from the Marabella community have chosen to make sweet melodies instead.
The excitement was noticeable on the faces of the students enrolled in Southern Marines Steel Foundation’s eight annual Summer Pan Camp at the Pan Palais along the Southern Main Road, Marabella yesterday.
From only getting to know that pan was their national instrument a few days ago, in just three days they were belting out the bridge of the popular Nigerian gospel artiste Sinanch’s "I Know Who I am". Before the four-week camp is over, they’ll be able to play a part of the National Anthem, God Bless Our Nation and a 2019 Soca that is yet to be chosen.
Arranger and band leader Malomo Joseph shows the kids the different notes of the pan.
Head tutor, arranger and tuner Malomo Joseph said that each day is split into two sessions. In the morning, students learn grade one music theory, such as reading and writing music.
After the lunch break, its time to pick up those sticks and make music. Field trips are part of the fun.
Joseph believes that the camp is service to the community and the country by not only teaching music to the students but by keeping them occupied.
“We want them to see that they can also use music as a trade and as a job. We have evidence that people who left the classes in previous years went on to become professional musicians, landing jobs on cruise ships and in other international events. We see them being able to fit into musical jobs both nationally and internationally,” Joseph said.
Four year old Ascala Daniels plays a the tenor pan at the Steel Foundation’s eight annual Summer Pan Camp at the Pan Palais along the Southern Main Road, Marabella yesterday.
Southern Marine’s president, veteran pan man Michael “Scobie” Joseph lamented that funding for the camp has hindered its expansion.
“We see this as developing the youths and keeping them out of trouble. We have been running these classes for more than seven years. We’ve been doing a number of things in the community to keep the youths occupied over the years, but we’ve not had any sponsorship. In the earlies, we used to get some help from Petrotrin but you realise that Petrotrin is no more.
“When the great Joan Yuille-Williams was the Minister of Culture, she used to assist the pan classes. Since she has left, steelband and pan classes began to suffer and we are suffering now,” Scobie said.
He said the funding will help to extend the period of the camp and increase the capacity of the class, which will provide a greater service to the community. He added that classes like this ensure that the pan tradition survives.
Malomo Joseph gives a demonstration.
The band raises its funds and will host a back in times party on July 28. Despite the financial constraints, Scobie said Southern Marine will always fight to keep steel pan music alive.
The camp runs from July 15 to August 9 and parents have until Monday to get their children in on the action.
So far, the class has 12 students with space for 30. However, he said some spaces are already booked as some students are finishing academic lessons today and will join on Monday.
Although the camp caters for children between the ages of seven to 17, adults who have never played the instrument are being tutored as well. There is a registration fee of $500 but discounts are given to families.
Those interested in learning to play can contact Southern Marines at 794-9451 and 794-9863.