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Canada

Published on April 20th, 2014 | by insideToronto.com

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Celebrate the steel pan sounds of the Caribbean with Toronto students

For the past 25 years, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has enriched its music programming by giving students a taste of the Caribbean. The TDSB has hosted its annual Panfest celebration, in which students from schools across the board have played steel pan drums, every year since 1989. While the initiative started out small, it has grown to the point where some 700 students from 33 schools now take part in steel pan instruction and performance.

“For some of the schools, it’s a credit course,” said Panfest co-ordinator and TDSB instructional leader of music Alkiviadia Leontarakis. “It’s a great form of musical learning and it gives kids a different opportunity to begin their musicianship.” Leontarakis noted the popularity of steel pan drumming has grown in leaps and bounds in elementary and secondary schools alike. “They can continue to play (steel pan) or it can be a vehicle to further build their musical skills,” he said.

Students from Winona Drive Public School, Runnymede Collegiate Institute, Cedarvale Collegiate Institute and Carleton Village Sports and Wellness Academy joined professional steel pan players to kick off this year’s Panfest with a concert at the Bickford Centre on Thursday, April 10. Dr. Vidhya Gyan Tota-Maharaj, Consul General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, was on hand for the launch of Panfest and spoke of the steel pan’s humble roots in her home country. “Our musical instrument, the steel pan, was invented in Trinidad and Tobago many, many years ago when it was considered making noise,” she said. “Now there are over 120 (steel pan) orchestras all over the world.”

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