‘Ask and it shall be given’
─ Min. Trotman pledges steel pan to West Dem. Secondary
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, August 28, 2019
“It would be a great addition to our team because, for now, we are a small band and we use some of the steel pans from the Stewartville Secondary… It will also improve the sound quality of the band. If we can get some more melody, it would be awesome,” said Renaldo Mars, a steel pan player who has been practising on the instrument for seven years.
Mars shared his thoughts with the Department of Public Information (DPI) after the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Raphael Trotman pledged to donate two chrome steel pans to West Demerara Secondary Steel Pan Orchestra.
The offer came at a community meeting held at the West Demerara Secondary School after Principal, Harry Narine, made the request. “One of our challenges is expanding our steel pans, and so, I am asking if the Ministry [of Natural Resources] can give a pair of chrome pans to the West Demerara Secondary School,” Narine asked.
Minister Trotman, who was receptive to the request, responded:
“When I heard the band playing, I said they were at the national standard… I don’t know where I can source two chrome pans, but if you do know and you give me the price I will commit, and I am doing so publicly now, to get it done for you.”
Another band member, 19-year-old Rabiah Hughes was elated by the gesture and later told DPI: “I think it is a great idea because we will be able to have more students join the band, and we will be able to continue playing in the large bands, since we will have an addition [of pans].”
A section of the steel pan orchestra entertained those at the meeting with renditions of Guyana’s national songs and the band’s favourite ‘Not a Blade of Grass’. The steel pan orchestra has recently placed 2nd in this year’s Republic Bank Panorama Competition.
Since 2015, the government has embarked on a nationwide effort to intensify the school steel pan programme which saw the establishment of three school bands each year. Currently, there are twenty-four (24) active school bands, a transformation that the government hopes to continue, primarily through its Pan-O-Rama competitions.
During an interview earlier this year, Mashramani Coordinator, Andrew Tyndall praised the remarkable improvements in the number of persons that participate in steel pan competitions. “We have gone from the early 2000s where just 200-300 persons were attending a Steel Pan competition, to now thinking about a new venue for the event due to the large volume of persons who play and those who are now a part of the audience in this activity which is now one of the premier activities for the Mashramani festival,” Tyndall mentioned.