A Caribbean music vibe filled the gym at Jack Kemp school on Thursday as grade fives got some hands on learning to play the steel pan from Trinidad and Tobago.
The multicultural day at the school included First Nations, Métis, Finland, India, Pakistan, Ukraine and Mexican culture and students were invited as well to wear national clothing and partake of a potluck showcasing the international cuisine that calls Lloydminster home.
Ten-year old Ava who does not play any instruments said,”It was cool and fun to play” the steel pan or drum.
School principal Elena Brand says the multicultural day is a chance to celebrate all their students’ cultural heritage as the grade fives in particular lucked out with the opportunity to actually learn to “play pan.”
“Learning new instruments is a part of the curriculum. Multiculturalism is a part of the music curriculum and so it’s tying all of these things together.”
Danielle George of All Things Pan is based in Edmonton. She has been sharing the steel pan workshops with schools in the Edmonton area. Her heritage is from Trinidad and Tobago, the country that gifted the steel pan or drum to the world.
She says kids who play piano are “just a whizz” at playing the pan, but once kids see the pattern “they get the song even faster than people who play piano.”
She is proud to share her heritage as the steel pan is the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century.
“It’s a real instrument, just like a piano or guitar – a tuba, a flute. It can play anything from rock to classical to like what we (Trinidad and Tobago) know which is calypso and soca. It can play anything – R&B.”
The instrument which evolved from discarded oil drums represents a century-long experimental process whereby the descendants of African slaves re-invented their music when the British banned the playing of drums in the 1877.
Grade five student Dominic who plays the recorder and sometimes the drums shares his joy of being a first time pan player.
“I’d say it’s a nice rhythm and it makes me feel happy. We played Row Row Row Your Boat.”
George, who has a band in Edmonton, hinted she plans to be back in Lloydminster to share some more of her talent.
The day wrapped with a multicultural assembly which showcased First Nations dancing and drumming, the Red River Jig, Ukraine, Finland, Indian classical dance, the Mariachi Project, a martial arts demonstration from the Art of Taekwon-Do + Kung Fu Lloydminster Club and the steel pan.