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Question for the septuagenarians (That means persons 70 years old and older)

I asked Peter Blood (a respected "cultural journalist" among other things) recently, if he remembers an ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist by the name of Dr Aziz who wrote on the Evening News sometime back in the early to mid 70s, that ALL PANMEN ARE DEAF? He couldn't recall. Who remembers that evening news article?

Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Hinkson, anyone (if you're old enough), do you remember that article? I am not joking, and I am not hallucinating, as I am not under the influence of any intoxicants or hallucinogens

Everybody, all the leaders in the steelband world then, said in unison, that the man was talking nonsense, only to realize now that the noise emitted from a "Small Steelband" exceeds the allowable decibel level of 85 which can cause permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.

As we get into full gear for panorama, has it become necessary for leaders in the steelband world to explore and implement measures to mitigate the damage continued exposure to the high noise levels emitted by steelbands causes to exponents of the art form?

I intend to raise that question with a school steelband, and I intend to collect evidence by initiating a study conducted and verified by HSE professionals with properly calibrated and certified instruments for the benefit of all Panmen.

I solicit this forum's thoughts and input on the subject.



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Russell: I left TRINIDAD in May 1970!!! And though I had an obsession with TRINIDAD NEWSPAPERS and many were sent to me by various means, I did not read that article!!!

But I have read many similar stories in AMERICA (I am an AMERICAN CITIZEN and if you want to call me FRESH WATER YANKEE -- I have no problem with that); I have read an occasional article about ROCK AND ROLL having similar effects on hearing.

Here is one that I pulled randomly!!! But YOU ARE ON THE CORRECT ROAD with the PAN TING!!!


Interesting, not in my 70s a few nights ago my son who's a gamer showed me this video to test my hearing and compare the results with his. As a screenager between his IPhone and the Desktop he might end up in "digital detox" soon come.

Cool Hearing Test: Are You a Superhuman?

An average human is capable of hearing frequencies from 20hz to 20000hz. Are you a superhuman or worse than average? Check it out!

Longstanding issue, like the poisonous former contents of the drums used to make the pans.  A few years ago, I took to Trinidad a calibrated microphone which served as a sound pressure monitor when connected to an Ipod.  

Took it to a Large Band panyard into the band while they were rehearsing for Panorama.  It immediately said "overload".  It overloads at a SPL of 120 dB.  Google that and decide for yourself what the hazard is.  

Most of my drummer friends wear protective headphones or earplugs.  I see a few pannists with earplugs, but very few engine room beaters using earplugs.

The mention of school bands is pertinent.  Adults can be expected to consider the hazard and decide on their own.  School kids, particularly young ones may not be aware of the risk.  The leaders of those steelbands have a real responsibility to protect the health of their students, and that includes their hearing.


Does occasional noise and constant noise have any bearing on this topic? 

If you are talking about length of time versus spl, yes, see link.


“I intend to raise that question with a school steelband, and I intend to collect evidence by initiating a study conducted and verified by HSE professionals with properly calibrated and certified instruments for the benefit of all Panmen.”

Nice topic, this can be taken in so many directions, I mention in another post what I can remember about you from “Pan Cents” the panyard was in front of a house, I’m assuming your place of residence. Salah Wilson said this about his Mom when he celebrated her 99th birthday recently “I consider my Mom (Iris "Miss Toye" Wilson and Grand Mother "Ma Mena") as Steelpan activists for allowing steelpan activities in their backyard.” I can recall the late Teddy Guerra’s band practicing in front their house for Panorama. How did they survive this health issue?  The new term being used “noise pollution” created laws to restrict similar activities in some communities.

 Would there be new rules when it comes to panmanship from “beating” to “playing” the pan, what about the Engine Room where the IRON is KING?  Would all this impact Panorama judging? 

Ah hearing pan-SHADOW

There is no doubt that the noise of a steelband , like many other noises can affect hearing. However , I am 72 , have worked for most of my life in noisy industrial environments , and I've alwaus loved extremely loud music , calypso , rock , reggae and pan.

Also , apart from loud music in my car and home , I also use headphones.

I also love loud movie soundtracks in my home system , which is one of the reasons my wife says I'm deaf.

Hearing tests over the years at work has shown some hearing loss , but nothing significant.

Judging from my lifestyle , however , I'd be hard pressed to blame it on my years in the steelbands , above everything else.

 I will  share some of my steelband history with this forum today.... a pannist since 1966 to-date....play...arrange and teach steelpan music .......... for the last ten years  a player in the "engine room" of two champion steelbands......during that period I also attended school....studied music theory..... and french as a second language......... got very high marks for my ability to hear and write "french" ........  in my music class very high  marks in "ear training" the ability to listen  and write the correct   answer  to the music that is played........to-date I have no problem with my hearing... my doctor will attest to that...PEACE



Not too many parents will want to involve their children in pan if there is any fear of their kid having hearing problems..

First, the potential for hearing loss is not unique to pan.  Drummers are subject to loud sounds, electric guitar players, and in fact any musicians who play amplified music for an audience,  Hearing loss and stage monitor (those speakers you see aimed at the musicians) volume levels are a constant subject of discussion in the audio world. 

We had audio mixers and even on-air talent  at the network I worked at who had serious hearing issues from years of exposure.  Add to that those who listen to their walkman or smart phone with headphones "cranked way up".  And we have audience exposure to live and recorded music.  Go stand behind or side of the "big truck" and guess the sound levels.  Try a rock music concert. Playing pan is a very small part of the issue.

And there is a simple and inexpensive solution.  Earplugs, particularly musician's earplugs, cost almost nothing and provide excellent protection.  I fear, however, that some people feel they are "sissies" to wear them.

For those who simply want to enjoy listening to pan (or any other unamplified acoustic music) there is an even simpler solution.  Don't stand so close to the band...

Very well said , PJJ .

And those ear plugs are also recommended for noisy industrial environments , but many of us "forget" to use them.

And many think it cool to stand close to those extremely powerful speakers , so that the sound could be absorbed by their entire bodies !

Yes, and wearing hearing protection would let the rest of their bodies absorb the sound while protecting their ears...


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