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Ace pan arranger Duvone Stewart is calling for the national instrument to be mandatory in the school curriculum

Trinidad Newsday

Today, his wish remains “to see this instrument in all the schools as a compulsory instrument for students to learn music.”

“Funny enough, I have been a student at the Scarborough RC School… no pan, Scarborough Junior Secondary School…no pan, Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive School…little pan, because the musical director at that time was Mr Frank Stanisclaus and he was also the arranger for Our Boys Steel Orchestra, and we had a little steelband."

He said pan needs to treated with the status it deserves.

"It is our national instrument, it is an instrument where we need to respect. The same way how we stand at attention in singing our national anthem with pride, it deserves the same respect too because it’s what the red, white and black represents,” he said adding, “We tend to be followers in what we want to do in music and in life in general, so I believe we need to take a stand in becoming a leader in setting that trend in having steelpan instrument in the school system, compulsory from primary right up to the tertiary-education level.”


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While I agree to the inclusion of instruction in pan playing in schools I would not agree to the extent that it be made "mandatory."

A REASONABLE PAN VOICE on WHEN STEEL TALKS -- what do we have here?

So Claude you want to go to Oxford University and study black history or Saudi Arabia and study Spanish?

You MADD...


Well we can't please everybody with what we have to say but THAT IS MY OPINION 

I totally agree with you Duvone. This is called investing in your own future. It's done all over the world in thriving economic countries.


At the prestigious NYU School of Percussions the study and playing of the steelpan instrument is mandatory.  Why in the land of Pan, Trinidad and Tobago, should the pan not be mandatory?


It's most interesting that at the bottom of this article there were two responses:

Raj Maharaj
If every Tom, Dick and Harry could call for their personal policy on school education, we could be in a sorry state.. Although pan is a national instrument and it makes beautiful music, calling it to be mandatory in school is certainly ridiculous.
Sharon Smith
If it was Tasa, then the comment would be different. Our people always fight down our own. So sad.

At the end of the day, it always boils down to ‘pan vs Tassa’, ent? What a mentality! Please don’t read anything into the common “p” and the capital “T”, eh?

EYE say let the Ministry give the community/government schools the option to choose the instruments of their CHOICE...

Ol' Lady - Mungal Patasar & Pantar

Indian Calypso-Jazz, Harold Headley tenor pan

Trinidad All Stars - Aai Aai Aa Sukoo Sukoo

Chutney pan...arranger Leon 'Smooth' Edwards

Oh, excuse me, gotta go to Tokyo for a “steel pan Christmas”. Laterz.

Considering the import the national instrument is supposed to mean for T&T as a nation, I can see the value Duvone would like to see given.  I would like to know what subjects are currently mandatory.  I was raised when the focus in a newly independent nation, was on making it well-rounded starting at the primary educational level, including "civics".  Once we graduated to the secondary level, many subjects like arts were made redundant (affordability?) much to the chagrin and dismay of many of us as only those with funds could continue "privately".  Going forward, let's hope the national goals will be more of a focus and dialogue for brain-storming for educators and citizens alike as part of national service.  This tribal mentality does not advance but divides and stifles progress.

It's encouraging to see Mr. Stewart adding his voice in support of an action that the Minister of Education has recently commissioned.

  1. MoE to hire 120 music instructors for Pan in All Schools project
  2. Education Ministry gives pans to ECCE centres

Mandatory is a strong word to be thrown out in a (racially polarized) democracy.

I suspect that denominational boards responsible for policy in some schools may have the right to determine the structure and content of their school's syllabus in conjunction with the respective school board, and possible the school's principal. Quite likely this may also be the case in some government (public, for the benefit of our global audience) schools. The evidence however suggests that the Ministry of Education's intent is for its inclusion in the curriculum.

It would be interesting to note what response the following would evoke, especially when we consider the specific action suggested predicating the subject of the discussion. 




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