Students learn pan arranging

"I am totally focused on improving my skills to be able to arrange music for a steelband for the Panorama competition."

July 23, 2015

FIRED by a singular passion to be counted among the select group of people who arrange calypsoes for the acclaimed Panorama steelband competition, a new cadre of musicians, young and old, are taking positive steps to achieve their ambition.

The aspiring arrangers, 10 in all, are participants in the annual Panorama Arranging Music Workshop which is being conducted at the Tranquility Government Primary School, Port of Spain. The programme is facilitated by the Pan-in-Schools Coordinating Council (PSCC) and sponsored by energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago.

“I am totally focused on improving my skills to be able to arrange music for a steelband for the Panorama competition. For the immediate future, I am looking forward to advance my studies in music at UWI or UTT and to set up a music school for teaching and arranging music later on,” said an eager Anila Mulzac, 17, of Edinburgh Gardens, Chaguanas.

No stranger to Panorama competition, young Mulzac is the captain of BP Renegades Junior Steel Orchestra, perennial champions of Pan Trinbago’s Junior Panorama Competition, including 2014 and 2015. “Of course, my involvement with Renegades is a big stepping stone for me in my goals so far. First of all, I hope to arrange for a junior band and then graduate to a senior band for Panorama. That day will be a dream come true,” said Mulzac, who is also intent on playing with the National Steel Symphony Orchestra.

The intensive three-week Panorama Arranging Workshop forms one segment of a three-pronged comprehensive music workshop initiative which also takes in Music Composition for CXC students and Drumming (catering to primary school students).

The Panorama Arranging workshop is conducted by Michelle Huggins-Watts, herself a Panorama championship winning arranger. She is assisted by Junior Panorama arranger Akeel Henry, a graduate of the programme a few years ago. 

Joel Primus, Community Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations Adviser, bpTT, commended the participants on their keen interest in the workshop and love for pan and their ambitions to embrace the musical genre in an expansive way.

“BPTT has partnered with the PSCC for 10 years now and we have seen many participants in these workshops go on to great things, not only in Trinidad and Tobago but in the international arena. We are confident that our indigenous music is in safe hands. It augurs well for the future of pan. We stand fully in support of your aspirations as future guardians of the national instrument,” Primus told the participants.

Stacy Alcantara, PSCC coordinator for the workshop, lauded bpTT for its continuing support of the council’s annual initiative and pointed out that it has served to fine-tune and hone the skills of aspiring musicians over the years. “This year there are participants of varying ages, some are in their teens while we have more elderly persons who want to complement their natural ability with some actual training. Some of them are now learning music while a few have completed university level. They all understand the value of this workshop for their future goals,” explained Alcantara.

For Dianne Cummings, manager of St. Thomas Silver Stars, based in Maloney Gardens, the Panorama Arranging workshop is the first step for her to learn music in a structured sense. “I know music and play pan by ear. I want to read music to be able to arrange for my band. It is very expensive to hire an established arranger. Most of our members come from a ‘high-risk’ area and being involved with a steelband is a healthy and positive avenue. This programme will assist me to achieve those goals,” said Cummings, a public servant on the verge of retirement.