Debbie Jacob
Friday, 22 July 2011 02:13

Pan in Education Review
Pan on the move by Debbie Jacob


I can count myself as one of the privileged few who witnessed a historic moment in music education when musician/composer Mark Loquan launched his CD Pan in Education at Queen’s Hall last week.

This innovative CD, which is collaboration with Simeon Sandiford of Sanch Electronix Ltd, features a dual compact disc that offers beginning students the chance to learn pan and work their way up to sophisticated pan arrangements.

There’s no other CD like Loquan’s Pan in Education. The CD provides social, historical
and biographical notes, scores for individual instruments and even Internet links. Clips of the original songs are presented in MP3 files.

Notes on Caribbean Rhythms as well as a comparison between the range of instruments of the steel orchestra and those of the conventional symphony orchestra are also included. Pan in Education includes learner outcomes for each lesson. In short, this is a CD where you could see musical scores and hear them as well.

The programme allows pan students to see each note as it is playing. Students can slow down the tempo and speed it up. Students can isolate instruments and add them one by one to get a feel for arranging. Listeners can put the music into perspective; get valuable information about the steelbands playing as well as biographical information about the arrangers.

The section on Caribbean and Latin rhythms demonstrates everything from calypso and soca to samba and shango beats.

Pan in Education is clearly an ambitious, well thought-out project that demonstrates an amazing amount of hard work for a CD that benefits everyone, from beginning students to professionals who are entering the creative field of pan arrangement.

Realising that most of our pan music is being lost because it is not scored, Loquan sets out to teach a generation of musicians from Trinidad and Tobago the valuable skill of reading and writing music.

“Imagine the implications of having all this music that just disappears after Carnival every year recorded and documented by musicians,” Loquan said at his launch.

Loquan believes that students at primary and secondary levels will benefit from using his CD as an educational tool. What he has created is a CD that can cross the curriculum and link subjects such as social studies, drama and English. It can even be used to teach reading and writing form since Loquan has included the lyrics for each one of the songs.


Outside of the classroom, Pan in Education becomes a valuable method of

exporting our music. Students and musicians abroad can learn a tremendous amount of history and music from this

This integrated foundation for an evolving music industry is vitally important if pan is going to move to another stage in its development. Music educator Sat Sharma and musicologist Dr Pat Bishop wholeheartedly agreed with Loquan’s vision.

Loquan is the first to admit that his double CD was a long, sometimes arduous effort that took about four years to complete. Because it is a pioneering project, Loquan had to convince steelbands of the value of the project. When it comes to teaching music, steelbands are notorious for rote learning.

“Just think what would happen if everyone learned to read music,” said Loquan.

This certainly would be a liberating experience for local musicians. Loquan said that when he was working in Finland, he used to travel to Sweden to play with a steelband. There, he couldn’t help but notice that they were reading musical scores. Even before he returned to Trinidad, he had a dream to create circumstances where we would get to that point as a nation.

It is the collaborative effort that helps to make this project extraordinarily professional. Kareem Brown transcribed many of the musical arrangements used in the CD. He also helped to build interactive links on the second CD.

Sharma, who also lectures at the University of the West Indies’ Centre for Creative and Festival Arts, proofread and edited the scores used in the CD. He also categorised arrangements according to level of difficulty and proposed a comparison between the ranges of instruments of the classical symphony orchestra and the steelband. He created learner outcomes and suggests links to other subjects.

Executive producer Sandiford engineered 12 of the 13 recordings, gave the projects its name and wrote many of the technical articles presented as digital files on the second CD. Sandiford has dedicated many years to pan recordings and they have always been professional.

Loquan says we have to look to the future and keeping up with the music industry in a technology-based computer age. “When I look far into the future I think of the world out there remembering us for the music we produced and preserved—not just that we were the place where the steelband was born.”

Indeed, if pan is going to be more than a novelty it will have to have a body of music that it can leave as a written legacy. It’s about time that someone is making the effort.

Trinidad Guardian, Monday October 17 2005, page 24.