Steel Pan Workshop

Last Friday, we had the pleasure of learning about and playing Steel Pans. It was an amazing workshop with a lovely tutor who taught us many interesting facts. Steel Pans originated from Trinidad and Tobago: they were originally oil drums from cargo ships which had travelled to the islands to trade fruit. Disappointingly, the oil drums were littered on the islands – but the people there decided to recycle them and make them into musical instruments after they heard the rain pattering on them. They were obviously very musical people!

We learnt how to play lots of different rhythms and notes, and we learnt about the Calypso style. We enjoyed listening to the sound the different pans made; some were higher pitched and some were lower. The size of the actual Pan does not affect the pitch, but the size of the hammered dents on the pans does affect the pitches. The smaller the dent, the higher the pitch.

The pans have different names: the Cello pan, the Bass pan, the Guitar pan, the Second pan and the Lead pan. We were taught how to hold the beaters. For everyone except the bass pans, we were only allowed to use our thumb and index finger. The bass pan beaters are larger and so we could hold them with more fingers.

There were different coloured stickers and letters on which part of the steel pans to play. Mike taught us a tune which we could play with the maracas too. We used the song ‘Feeling Hot’. We also had an ‘engine room’! We shook maracas and Mike played different rhythms on his drum.

We had great fun and learnt a great deal about Caribbean Steel Pans!

Class 5B