Steel Pan Trainers Officially Graduate

By:Curtis Morton

Charlestown-Nevis—A brief but significant ceremony, was held at the Bath Hotel, on Thursday 14th December.

The ceremony which was ably chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Kevin Barrett, effectively brought to its conclusion, the first phase of a UNESCO sponsored community steel pan project, which commenced in the month of February.

Preliminary items involved prayer by Mr. Barrett and the national anthem, appropriately played on pan, by Miss Shevonne Maynard.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Barrett pointed out that the workshop was the brain child of Premier Vance Amory, who has a vision of having the art of steel pan playing, become an integral part of the all of the various communities throughout the island, with each community eventually boasting of at least one steel band.

Based on the mandate of the Premier, a working committee was put in place in order to make the dream a reality. The committee comprised of such persons as Mr. Barret (who himself previously played in a steel band), Rohan Claxton; Zahnela Claxton-Ministry of Social Development; Mr. Eric Evelyn –President of the Empire Sports club and Miss Tracey Parris-Community Development Officer.

Mr. Barrett thanked Mr. Rohan Claxton for doing 95% of the work in drafting the proposal to UNESCO and Mr. Antonio Maynard, UNESCO Secretary General for St. Kist and Nevis, who was very instrumental in securing the funds required for the project.

Mr. Rohan Claxton then gave an overview of the project. He indicated that the project was an initial challenge, as he too has a vison for creating a cohort of future musicians and this project has produced twenty.

He wants to establish three main groups of pan players in each community: A seniors’ group, a teenaged group and a Primary schools’ group.

The new pan set received as part of the project comprises of 3 tenors, 1 double second; 1 double tenor; 4 trello; 2 guitar pans and a six bass.

He is also anticipating the later addition of a drum set.

The second phase of the project will see the new trainers going into the Gingerland community, to teach young and old persons, how to play pan.

Facilitator of the workshop, Mr. M. J. Byron of St. Kitts, spoke about accepting the challenge, thrown at him by Rohan Claxton, but noted that the students were very receptive and had the basic knowledge, which only had to fine-tuned.

He stated that his love for the steel pan, started way back at the age of five and he plans to continue to teach as many persons the art form, as one day he will not be on the scene. As a matter of fact, he alluded to one day becoming a pilot.

Premier Vance Amory spoke about his idea, which he stated begun when he was little boy, growing up in Rawlins village. He pointed out that back then, every community had a steel band. As a matter of fact, Rawlins Village alone, had three steel bands.

He referred to the climax of the workshop as a good Christmas gift and farewell gift.

He noted that his passion is all about the continuation of the local culture.

He spoke about the sweet pulsating sounds of the steel pan and thanked Mr. Antonio Maynard for ensuring that the project received $25,000.00 US.

Premier Vance Amory then, officially handed over the steel pan set to Mr. Eric Evelyn who in his response, noted that he is always willing to be a part of any initiative which leads to the development of the community.

He stated that he was happy to see the revival of the steel band as he also loves pan music.

He further stated that Gingerland already has the two best string bands on the island, in the Sugar Hill string band and the Advent Minstrels.

He also thanked all who had helped to make the project a reality.

The newly endowed trainers then showed off their skills on pan by entertaining the gathering with three wonderful musical selections.

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