Story and pictures by
The Hatters Steel Orchestra hosted a one-month camp where they taught children how to play the national instrument during the August/September school vacation.
The young pan enthusiasts, ranging from ages four to 16, hosted a show and collected certificates of achievement recently at the Girls Guides Headquarters in San Fernando.
The 37 members became involved in the developments and seized the opportunity to rename themselves the Hatters’ Youth Academy.
They shared songs they learned on the drums, steelpan and with their harmonised voices.
Pan Trinbago executive member and Hatters Steel Orchestra PRO Withfield Weekes commended the tutors for the accomplishment of turning non-pan players into a symphony of local songs.
He said with talents as such, Merchant’s 1995 song Pan in Danger is no longer a question with the show the children put on at the graduation.
He said he was initially uncertain of the camp’s duration after their Lady Hailes, San Fernando home base was vandalised some months ago.
Part valedictorian Ronisea Huggins receives her certificate from music theory tutor Wendell Bernard
Weekes said: “Without a proper home, it is very difficult to have members because you are not sure where you would end up…there was uncertainty about the camp, but I am so pleased with what was achieved in one short month.
“Trinidadians have real talent. To see it come to fruition, I salute the members.”
Weekes called on all to play a part to ensure continuity and to save the art form. He said everyone had a part to play and not just a specific sector of society.
“I am always happy to see our young people involved in playing the national instrument, it gives me pride and joy…God give us this gift and we are sharing this gift with the world…We just have to manage it properly.
“We have to support it, not only the government and corporate Trinidad but the people in the society…If we are having a fundraising event coming up and you asking for a complimentary ticket; come and pay! That would support all the bands in T&T.
“We need financial support because it is not like 40, 50 years ago when the pan was cheap, everything has gone up, the cost of living and so are the instruments, and now it is a world wide phenomenon, people all over the world want to hear the pan.”
The Academy ended the graduation with a jump up.
At the camp, the children learned to play the tenor, double tenor, double seconds, and the base pans.
Pan tutor Carlon Lyons said he was comfortable and confident of the academy making a place in a panorama competition if one was to be hosted.
Valedictorians Isaiah Blackman and Ronisea Huggins said they enjoyed learning about the scores sheets, drums, steelpan, music theory and the copyright laws that go with the business.
Hatters Youth Academy members perform the song I Can See Clearly Now.
Young pannists in the four-to-11-years age group.