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Three simple steps for Pan Trinbago to take to improve Panorama.

As we head into the 2013 pan season, the benefits and drawbacks of Panorama will certainly be debated. It has been nearly ten years since sweeping changes were made to the competition with the introduction of size categories and reduction in playing time, and it is no secret that the competition continues to be an expensive and unsustainable model in its current state. I do not wish to engage in a discussion about its merits as an artistic event but rather ways that it can be improved upon. As an active player who deals with these issues year after year, I present three simple actions that Pan Trinbago could take to make it better for everyone.

1. Compress the competition schedule from four-plus weeks to two.

Arrangers are arranging, players are learning, and bands are drilling music at a faster rate than ever before, mostly due to increased knowledge of music notation by arrangers and players. Many arrangers are using software like Finale or Sibelius to arrange the music at home on their own time; obsolescent are the days of the arranger coming to the yard and figuring music out on the players' time, as are the days of laborious rote learning. This has resulted in a surplus of time due to the length of the season. There is no reason to have semifinals two weeks before finals. In fact, many bands cancel practice for most of the week right after semis. The current schedule is very cumbersome, and I suggest that there should be only two weeks between preliminaries and finals, with semis the weekend inbetween. This would result in players of all ages spending fewer late nights in the yard and bands spending less money on running rehearsals. And, it would not only be less of a burden on local players who have school, work, children, etc. but also the (growing) number of players coming from abroad who have to take off weeks from their jobs, families, and lives just to play at each stage of the competition. It might even encourage increased panorama-related observer tourism.

2. Reduce the maximum size limit of the bands.

Most will agree that the visceral effect of a hundred-plus steel orchestra is incredible. But fact of the matter is, besides for the few perennial frontrunners these large band sizes are not sustainable. Despite the size categories, there is still extreme stratification within each category, with quality bands and arrangers slipping simply due to being on the lower end of the range. And the result is that more and more, many bands increasingly rely on "hustlers" to bolster the band size, often to the detriment of the band's overall sound (due to over-extended hustlers skating), not to mention finances.
I propose a reduction to the tune of: Large - 90; Medium - 65; Small - 40; Single - 30. This would save money in many aspects from uniforms to transport to checks, would level the playing field within each category, and would help stem the concern of "hustlerism" as bands could make up numbers on their own. As a bonus, it would even enable a few medium bands to move up to large and bolster that suffering category, which has shamefully not even had enough bands for a prelims round since 2006.

3. Bring preliminaries judging back to the panyards.

Bands and PT would save money if panyard prelims judging were to resume. PT could save the money otherwise needed to be spent on the venue, production, subsidized transport, and so on. And the bands could use the event as a fundraiser. It is a win-win situation and I do not understand why this practice has ended.

Panorama is a globally unique and fresh artistic endeavor, and steps need to be taken to ensure its future. I believe that these steps will continuously reveal themselves to be necessary the longer they are neglected. Let's see if anyone is listening.

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Good piece Mr. Noah, you have noted my sentiments exactly. I blogged about the 2 weeks lapse between semi & finals back in 2008, but only 2 members responded. I may have been the only one who embrassed prior President, Mr. Arnold, when he changed the venue for the prelims from savannah to the respective panyards. (I saw money instead of glory)

I have written that the Steel Orchestras in T&T have to share some blame that we of the pan diaspora always put on the shoulders of Pan Trinbago. There is no Pan Trinbago without these Steel Orchestras, so they must be involved in any decisions that will affect them. If the Steel Orchestras leave everything up to other entities, well....................

Our sentiments will only fall on deaf ears if the candle is not lit; the bands are the candle.

Love, Peace and Pan.

The question is not about improving Panorama its about and alternative to Panorama after 50 years where Pan reach the only ones that benefits from Panorama is the tuners and arrangers there is only one Pan Man that travels the world over and that's Robert Greenidge who plays with Jimmy Buffett what happens if Government Stop subsidizing Pan?

Hey Noah..... It is not only Pantrinbago who needs to improve on Panorama but the panist themselves. I agree with you from what you have noted in item 1, from the aspect of improving the method in the panyard, because I personally have composed/sung/arranged a song for panorama 2012 and arranged a Panorama version on Sibelius software( percussion with drum phrases et al) and found it to be very convenient and exciting. There is "Indigisounds" who has developed the pan tones on a software that makes it much better. With the ideas in Item 1 implemented, the other ideas with proper planning should be viable. One thing I must say is that these PANIST/MUSICIANS must be able to read music scores so the rehearsals will not be "practice sessions", as practice is supposed to be done on their own free time and time spent in the panyard is for rehearsal, to bind the various parts together for more productivity.

I believe that qualified business people from the Pan fraternity should run Pan Trinbago. Does PT really care about panorama, or do they care about the proceeds of same?? PT's accounts should be audited yearly and so, for mis-appropriation of gov't monies.

The big guys enrich themselves at the expense of pan players, who seem not to know or don't care about what's happening. If Joe Blow from XYZ steel orch wants a position  in PT, he/she should be properly checked out..how effective are they at running the affairs of their own orgs.

If even we make panorama better the players will still end up holding the shitty end of the stick. I think our energies should be put into making the Steelband a player in carnival as it once was, [ah doh want nobody tellin meh dem days done] this is where the dollars is.  My concern is the steelband in T&T not pan.

Well said Mr Hinkson... that has been my beef all along.  Steelbands are more than just Panorama and the young people today are turning more and more to DJs and soca music because we are not giving them steelbands on the road.  I don't think that the days of steelbands are gone because it is an intergral part of a Trini's character but we have to stop curtailing them to just Panorama.  I played with Silver Stars on Jour 'Vert morning and it was ABYSMAL!!!!  They only played 2 songs from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. - the Panorama song and the bomb song and the playing side was made up of inferior players. (Probably all the good players were in DJ bands jumping to Soca).  No wonder my 20 year old family members turn up their noses at steelband and tell me - 'they so boring'!!   We HAVE TO BRING BACK STEELBANDS TO THE STREETS OF CARNIVAL or it will be all over for steelbands.

Noah - I agree with all your sensible suggestions regarding Panorama but I doubt if PT have time for these simple and effective solutions - their egos are too big for that.  Let's face it people they are in Pan Trinbago for their own glorification not for the good of the steelbands.

Noah,

I believe you mean well but your fixes come across as fast food and a highly mechanized approach that do not fully take into consideration the culture and needs of the Trinidad and Tobago citizens.

I agree with you completely about point 3.

Ref: point 2, why not simply eliminate a category, limit the number of bands a player can play for?  If people aren't coming out to see certain categories why force them on the people? It doesn't make business sense. Band sizes should not be regulated. Bands that can't market themselves or make it musically should not be in panorama until they are ready. Running to lesser categories to avoid licks is a punk thing to do.

As for the players spending less time in the panyard, that may be a good thing for foreigners or North America. It is not a good thing for Trinidad and Tobago. There is a humanizing, team, community spirit that band members develop spending all that time together that goes way past the panorama season. This is essential to Trinidad society and it is needed now more so than ever.

What is needed is a 10 million dollar competition where bands can op-out of the traditional panorama categories and there is no size requirements or limitations. There will be knowledgeable sound engineers and the bands will judged on soley on presentation and musical prowess.

bugs

And Brenda I think you are liking it.  A lot of people don't realize that Pan and Steelband are not the same thing, Pan is the instrument, Steelband is a group of people playing the instruments.  My concern is making Steelband a player in carnival today that's why I am saying carnival Tuesday only steelbands on the road.

 I am not in Trinidad but I try to keep up with the news via When Steel Talks.

After reading through the comments attached , which by the way are all fantastic, I get the impression that the

steel band pannists should decide what they want.

I noticed that the second string players who only know a few tunes, which may be two in number will and of course can only play those tunes for perhaps the whole day while the top players are jumping up to dj music..

This will not help the steelband . The pans must get into the mix and hold its own.

Panorama will usually sort itself out. If the changes are good they will be accepted if not they will be changed but essentially everything will begin with the pannist. They have to decide that they will beat pan for the Carnival,

where everything begins and throughout the Carnival which will initiate a good bargaining base for the rest of the year.

This means that there must be more first stringers so that changes can be made throughout the day, but maintain the standard of production.

Pan can no longer be confined to Panorama and to Carnival to maintain its position in the production of music

but its progress will depend on the pannists. Here enters the planners, the arrangers, the teachers and the innovaters. The success is there guys, lets go get it.

Good luck.

nice artivle, many of us will be in agreement. You have identified problems and provide solutions and many will be in agreement, also many have identified same in the past. The challenge is implementation. We must rcognise that it is in the interest of a few powerful steelband leaders to maintain the status eg.  the panorama front runners as you stated enjoy an advantage due to size and will resist any change to the numbers. What we need therefore is an educational/lobby program to get steelband men to accept the changes after which the implementation can successfully take place.

Eight minutes of glory is still the major and only reason against pan yard judging, while their are numerous benefits for.

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