History and photos of
The Hatters Steel Orchestra organized a month-long camp where they taught children to play the national instrument during the August/September school holidays.
The young pan enthusiasts, ages 4 to 16, recently put on a show and collected certificates of achievement at the Girl Guide headquarters in San Fernando.
The 37 members got involved in the developments and seized the opportunity to rebrand themselves as the Hatters’ Youth Academy.
They shared songs they learned on drums, steelpan and with their harmonized vocals.
Withfield Weekes, executive member of Pan Trinbago and Hatters Steel Orchestra PRO, praised the tutors for successfully transforming non-panoramic players into a symphony of local songs.
He said that with talents as such, Merchant’s 1995 song Pan in Danger is no longer an issue with the show the kids put on at graduation.
He said he was initially unsure how long the camp would last after their home base of Lady Hailes, San Fernando was vandalized a few months ago.
Part valedictorian Ronisea Huggins receives her certificate from music theory professor Wendell Bernard
Weekes said: “Without proper accommodation it is very difficult to have members as you don’t know where you would end up…there was uncertainty about the camp but I am so happy with what has been achieved in a month.
“Trinidadians have real talent. To see it come to fruition, I salute the members.
Weekes called on everyone to play a role in ensuring continuity and saving the art form. He said everyone had a role to play and not just a specific sector of society.
“I am always happy to see our young people playing the national instrument, it gives me pride and joy… God gives us this gift and we share this gift with the world… We just have to handle it properly.
“We need to support it, not only the government and businesses of Trinidad, but also members of society… If we have a fundraising event and you ask for a free ticket; come and pay! This would support all T&T bands.
“We need financial support because it’s not like 40, 50 years ago when the pan was cheap, everything went up, the cost of living and the instruments too, and now it’s a global phenomenon, people all over the world want to hear the pan.
The Academy ended the graduation with a leap.
At camp, the children learned to play tenor, double tenor, double seconds and bass pans.
Pan tutor Carlon Lyons said he was comfortable and confident the academy would earn a spot in a pan competition if it were to be staged.
Promo majors Isaiah Blackman and Ronisea Huggins said they enjoyed learning about the sheet music, drums, steelpan, music theory and copyright laws that come with the business.
Members of Hatters Youth Academy perform the song I Can See Clearly Now.
Young panists from 4 to 11 years old.