Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
Just over two years ago now, Pan came to Poland. That is not to say others hadn't tried before. A very skilled drum (as a percussion instrument) maker called Wójtek Sówka in 2010 attempted to start Pan in Poland and to an extent succeeded.
I am from the UK, Birmingham, and in my secondary school there was pan as part of the curriculum (to those who wanted it). So I played - and eventually moved to Poland where the Pan scene was non-existent. I took my Low C Tenor with me though and tried to keep it up, but when the opportunity arose (through the owner of a development company over here called 'Panorama' ironically) to get a sponsor to buy proper pans and start teaching it here, my wife and I (she is Polish) jumped on the idea.
I found out about Wojtek and tried to track him down so we could do something together, but unfortunately I found out he had passed away a year earlier. That left us pretty much alone here with no tuners and no Pan men. Wojtek's son helped us out for a while but after some times, some issues with the instruments arose that he hadn't the experience to deal with and the closest tuner was in Germany and this project became very expensive to keep going.
It was around the Panorama world championships when people started looking around the world to see who to invite and just how far Pan had expanded, and I started getting encouraging posts on facebook from the UK and Trinidad itself. We were even asked if we had a team we could take to T&T for the conference and championships (alas, there is not yet enough of us and financially it wasn't viable). We never got to go, but those contacts brought us firmly into the global Steel Pan community and we didn't feel quite so alone. People like Kim Johnson (Director of Pan! Our Music Odyssey) who was referred to our own documentary about Pan in Poland made contact with us, Silverstars USA sent us a DVD from Trididad's Panorama, and I was sent a CD of Phase 2's work by a new found friend on the island.
Just over a year ago I was invited by the father of my teacher to Coventry (Victor and Stephon Phillip) where our pans were made so he could show me some tuning basics. It was only two days, but the process fascinated me and certain things started falling into place. They provided me an old 30 year old pan to practise on, and later, a strobe tuner, and off I went. I am NOT a tuner, but some of those issues I mentioned earlier are fixed now, and our band is able to keep playing.
What I really wanted to say is that the out-pouring of love and support from the Pan community has been vital to our survival here, and I wanted to come here and that you so much (I know some of our friends are members here). You made us feel welcome even when things are hard in our own country. Feel free to check out our kids playing!
Thanks for sharing your inspirational story and dedication to steelpan. Please consider the research I am doing on the Environmental Sustainability Education (ESE) for steelpan.
If I can help I will - I have read the agreement. I am not sure how much help I can be at the moment though, as I haven't been tuning (not to even mention making) pan for anywhere near long enough to be a useful resource for your study.Let me know what you need.
Thanks for your willingness to help since this is a general call out to pan people in different capacities and at different levels of their craft. Please email me at your convenience for further discussion in ways specific to your situation.
This is fabulous! I was in Poland in 1987 with the Howard University choir, so I am very happy to see Poland embracing the art of Pan playing. People don't realize the global nature of Pan playing these days. Welcome, Poland into this international community of Pan.
Thanks Patricia! I hope peope DO realise the global nature of Pan, or I am of the firm belief that the instrument will die right there on the island. It's a beautiful instrument with a deep history and culture, and I am sure none of us would like to see that!
Like to add to this Pan all over the world, the attached photo is from Brisbane, Australia January 2005, will help when needed.