Beating their own drums

—Steel Pan Builders Workshop informing participants to tune pans

−Preserving the art of steel pan pan tuning

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Steel Pan Builders Workshop is more than just an initiative to teach participants how to ‘beat’ their own drums it is also preserving the skill of pan tuning.

The Department of Social Cohesion’s Mash Coordinator Andrew Tyndall told DPI that following the recent passing of two prominent pan tuners a decision was taken to implement the training exercise since it was felt the art form could be at risk.

He indicated that the initiative will equip the young participants with the necessary skills to build a career.

“One of the results we want to come out from the Republic Golden Jubilee celebration is to see an increase in capacity in a number of areas in Arts. This workshop is geared to empowering young people in the area of steel pan building and it is a very lucrative field,” he explained.

The exercise is also timely since the more than 20 bands expected to participate in the 2020 Pan-O-Rama competition will need their steel pans properly tuned.

On Monday, the department received a $500,000 cheque from Republic Bank, to facilitate the four-day workshop to train eight persons in the basics of steel pan construction.

The lone female, Kellisha Edwards who also attends the National School of Music and is a member of the National Steel Orchestra said while it was only the second day, she had learnt much from the hands-on training.

Tariq Mentore a Steel Pan Instructor attached to the Guyana Defence Force said even with 17-years of experience he still wishes to further his knowledge of the instrument. “Building a pan is always something that I wanted to do and so I am happy to be here and I am putting my best foot forward,” he said.

This workshop is the first phase of a two-year initiative that will see eight training sessions. “It is not a one-off thing …. During this session, we are looking at the introductory aspect and I thank the Republic Bank because their support allows us to host several workshops in this area…we are also reaching out to UNESCO next year for this specific effort,” Tyndall said.