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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 Providence FYI, I hung out with one of Dr. Aziz children on Wednesday who reported that the Dr. said the hearing exercise was done at the end of

1969 into 1970. I was of the view that it was later than that.

Thank you Gerard Clarke. I was almost sure that it had to be in the early 70s, as two of my peers sold the evening paper, The Evening News at that time. My sincerest gratitude for your efforts in having that critical piece of information verified.


Thank you for your input again Professor Copeland. In the early 70s when the transition was being made from imperial units to the SI units (the metric system,) and the United Kingdom was transitioning its currency to decimalization, the emphasis was on secondary school students, where both systems were taught. Therefore there are those who can easily relate to eight furlongs equals one mine, and one thousand meters in a kilometer, and even 1.609 kilometers in a mile. Similarly those persons would have understood that twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shilling made a pound sterling, and one hundred (new) pence also made one pound sterling. There are  many though who would have gone to secondary school prior to 1971, and were successful at the Cambridge and London GCE, and even further back to the Certificate of Secondary Education where proficiency was graded from 1 -5, who although eminently qualified, are still challenged with the use of the metric system.

I use the above analogies to emphasize the importance of raising awareness to noise induced hearing loss among the youthful practitioners of the artform as the catalyst for implementing a behavioral change in the attitude of members of the pan fraternity, in an effort to mitigate the incidence of that condition as the instrument continues to evolve.

I agree wholeheartedly. It takes at least a generation to make a significant cultural change so it makes sense to start with the youth. West Indians  general have grown accustomed to loudness - a throwback, some feel, to the days when not everyone in the community had radios and the few that had played loud enough for all to hear. But for us to grow as a culture, some practices must die. I often wonder if this is not why the maker established  the "circle of life."

On a larger note, we at UWI have been revisiting the purpose of education far beyond just providing training for the workforce or for personal "scholarly" enlightenment. There is general agreement that a well designed education system should empower citizens for one singular purpose - and that is to survive at all levels of existence. The system currently provides somewhat for survival in the world of work. However, at the most basic level every citizen should be able to take care of themselves when cut off from the "normal" means of supply.  Furthermore, the education system has to empower our people for the world of the future - that is another topic of discussion.

Bringing this all back to the topic of discussion is the fact that spanning all of these levels of survival is a component of education that facilitates each citizen's knowledge and understanding of self and how to optimally use,  maintain, preserve and  grow their physical, mental and spiritual abilities. Our current planning focuses on physical well-being (the kinesthetic - primarily muscle and bone) and a little bit of the mental. This will be a concentration in our new Faculty of Sport and Physical Education. However, this discussion has made me realize that we need to include issues that address taking care of the senses as well. This component of education should span every citizen's life from the cradle to the grave.

Thanks Mr Providence for raising this topic which I hope you see goes way beyond steelpan and the performing arts,  touching on broader quality of life issues that redound to the benefit of the individual and the community. 

God Bless. 


Is that true, though? In November I called a meeting to discuss a global curriculum for pan that would be put online on You Tube, so T&T can reclaim its status as the hub for global pan instruction. I invited UWI, UTT, the Pan in Schools of the Ministry, several bands with youth arms, including All Stars, Exodus, Merry Tones, Silver Stars, Invaders, Golden Hands. The response was underwhelming, with everyone arguing that, "We've done that already." Except UWI, which didn't even bother to respond to my invitation, far less attend. Truth is, what's being taught to young people is the same thing that turned generations of TT girls off piano: classical music theory, which is irrelevant to the popular music that grew from the African experience in the Americas and Caribbean: that is, ksiso, pan, reggae, dancehall, ska, salsa, samba, blues, jazz, rock and roll, etc. Our music education, spearheaded by our universities, is just another nail in the pan's coffin.

A little too LATE..http://weteachpan.org/


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