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I was introduced to pan and the steelband movement through my undergraduate degree at Indiana University, in whose steelband I was a member for five years. I created an individualized major in "Percussion Music from Latin American and Caribbean Cultures" that combined ethnomusicology/ anthropology, history, and music performance. Of my three focus areas (the other two being Cuba and Brazil), I am most passionate about pan and Trinidad and Tobago. I am primarily a lead/tenor player but I hope to develop my abilities on the other voices of the steelband and eventually lead my own band. Through my research I've developed a huge respect and interest for the history, socio-cultural significance, musical richness, beauty, and power of pan and the steelband movement. As I continue to research, study, and perform steelband music, I am determined to use my involvement to promote respect for the instrument, the music, its cultural roots, and defend pan from the being dumbed-down and sold out for crowds who think it comes from Jamaica, where they play "island music". Last but not least, I hope that, in addition to keeping the movement intact with the instrument in America, I hope to be able to help write a chapter in the history of the steelband movement that is uniquely American.
I have co-founded the Indiana Steel Pan Association, alongside Tom Berich and David Chase, to organize, serve, promote and fight for the state's pan community. We will be having the very first steelband festival in the state's history in May of 2011, and have a number of events planned to get pan in front of the general public.
Wow! I really did not know of pan in Indiana and I have lived here for 21 years. I am in Plainfield, Indiana, and teach at a small liberal arts college south of Indy, but no I don't teach pan...so let me know when and where the pan side will be playing next. Imagine I am from Deego also. Small world!
Thank you for your interest in the International Steelpan Collective. I have been reading your post on your Panorama/Carnival experience with Starlift Steelband 2011. Congratulations, I know what that feels like, because I did that some years ago. For this project, I am still in the research and conceptualization phase of the structure, so there isn't very much to share at this time, but if you are willing to be updated at some point I would be glad to do so.
As a steelpan musician based in Toronto, Canada, I have seen the challenges that the global steelpan loving community go through for the love of this art-form, and I believe I have some practical solutions for this community which could be developed over time.
In my current role as Social Service Worker/private steelpan tutor with a focus on Community Building, I see the potential benefits of working from the grassroots up to create an international organizational structure to enhance the experiences of people involved in steelpan music all over the globe. This collective would create a positive voice to ensure the fair distribution of advantages and benefits through equity measures for all qualified steelpan players, builders, tuners, researchers, arrangers, managers, tutors, educators and the integral fans-base (parents of steelpan school-aged minors included).
Some research has already been conducted, with an additional six months of factual ground work to draw up the tentative plans and organizational structural model, at which time I will post articles on When Steel Talks (WST) to announce the goals and objectives of the International Steelpan Collective. So if you would like to share a view from your perspective, please send me concerns on such a body, or ideas that would definitely build a 2.0 organization for the future of steelpan people.
I'm sure you're totally caught up in the happenings of Panorama right now, but when you return, or when you have a chance, I'd like to start a serious dialogue on how you started the ISPA. As I mentioned, I'm teaching pan out in Arizona and for a state that has at least ten-fifteen steel bands, it's a real shame that we don't have any real organization.
I have been struggling with my students trying to get them to find passion for pan and have come to the realization that until we have more of a community for them to participate in, it is going to be really difficult for them to find that passion.
I am very interested in getting my Arizona pan community together and making an ASPA for us. But, I want to do it right, and I want to include anyone else from other states who might show similar interest. I feel strongly that now is the time to strike. We have more pan programs starting across the country than ever before. In the last six years, I have probably taught about 350 high school students how to play pan. The sad thing, is that once they graduate, that's the end of the road. We have steel bands at both ASU as well as UofA, yet there are no scholarships, no recruiting...
So, not to "rant and rave" here, but I wanted to put this out there and I hope that we can be in touch when you have a chance. If you'd rather contact me via email, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy every moment in Trinidad! I am very envious as I have yet to make my pilgrimage... Peace!
Great reading your blog, Eric. I was a member of Starlift for the past fourteen years, and have since moved on, am now with Caribbean Airlines Invaders, as my two children are playing there. Its good to hear about your adventure in our land. I'm sure you are having one hell of a time. The members of Starlift are a great bunch, so i'm sure they have made you feel welcome and part of the family. Give me a shout, at 765-8928.
I just checked with Roy, he is out of town at the moment and won't be back until Thursday, so I will communicate with him on Friday and then let you know. The project we are working on is a book I have just completed and Roy is editing it for me. It is entitled, "Voices of Pan Pioneers of Trinidad & Tobago". It is transcripts of interviews I have done over the past thirty years with the pioneers of the instrument which I did for broadcast. When it is complete I will share it with WST. For a sampling of my work you may check the tributes to Bradley on WST, one of them I produced.
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