Pan camp to keep youths off the streets

Pan camp to keep youths off the streets

School va­ca­tion some­times leads idle hands to mis­chief but more than a dozen chil­dren from the Mara­bel­la com­mu­ni­ty have cho­sen to make sweet melodies in­stead.

The ex­cite­ment was no­tice­able on the faces of the stu­dents en­rolled in South­ern Marines Steel Foun­da­tion’s eight an­nu­al Sum­mer Pan Camp at the Pan Palais along the South­ern Main Road, Mara­bel­la yes­ter­day. 

From on­ly get­ting to know that pan was their na­tion­al in­stru­ment a few days ago, in just three days they were belt­ing out the bridge of the pop­u­lar Niger­ian gospel artiste Sinanch’s "I Know Who I am". Be­fore the four-week camp is over, they’ll be able to play a part of the Na­tion­al An­them, God Bless Our Na­tion and a 2019 So­ca that is yet to be cho­sen.

Head tu­tor, arranger and tuner Mal­o­mo Joseph said that each day is split in­to two ses­sions. In the morn­ing, stu­dents learn grade one mu­sic the­o­ry, such as read­ing and writ­ing mu­sic. 

Af­ter the lunch break, its time to pick up those sticks and make mu­sic. Field trips are part of the fun.

Joseph be­lieves that the camp is ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ty and the coun­try by not on­ly teach­ing mu­sic to the stu­dents but by keep­ing them oc­cu­pied.

“We want them to see that they can al­so use mu­sic as a trade and as a job. We have ev­i­dence that peo­ple who left the class­es in pre­vi­ous years went on to be­come pro­fes­sion­al mu­si­cians, land­ing jobs on cruise ships and in oth­er in­ter­na­tion­al events. We see them be­ing able to fit in­to mu­si­cal jobs both na­tion­al­ly and in­ter­na­tion­al­ly,” Joseph said.

South­ern Ma­rine’s pres­i­dent, vet­er­an pan man Michael “Sco­bie” Joseph lament­ed that fund­ing for the camp has hin­dered its ex­pan­sion.

“We see this as de­vel­op­ing the youths and keep­ing them out of trou­ble. We have been run­ning these class­es for more than sev­en years. We’ve been do­ing a num­ber of things in the com­mu­ni­ty to keep the youths oc­cu­pied over the years, but we’ve not had any spon­sor­ship. In the ear­lies, we used to get some help from Petrotrin but you re­alise that Petrotrin is no more.

“When the great Joan Yuille-Williams was the Min­is­ter of Cul­ture, she used to as­sist the pan class­es. Since she has left, steel­band and pan class­es be­gan to suf­fer and we are suf­fer­ing now,” Sco­bie said.

He said the fund­ing will help to ex­tend the pe­ri­od of the camp and in­crease the ca­pac­i­ty of the class, which will pro­vide a greater ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ty. He added that class­es like this en­sure that the pan tra­di­tion sur­vives.

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By Kevon Felmine

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian 

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