Small steelbands barely surviving
March 2 2004
ALTHOUGH the notion appalls my idealism, it’s an unfortunate reality that mediocrity has an ethic for survival.
Therefore, the steel pan competition will survive. As I mentioned ‘survive’, you might as well know that the small bands are barely surviving, three having participated in this year’s competition. This does not bode well for the art form. And again I raise the question, ‘who, or what is responsible for the disappearing pan yards?
One point leads to another. Could the Ministry of Education explain why schools with music departments, for example, Queen’s College, Bishops’ High School and North Ruimveldt Multilateral School failed to participate in the National Competition? I sincerely hope the excuse of the top two schools is not the old worn out ‘studying for exams’. (`Multi’ had better come up with a good answer).
And could the Disciplined Services explain non-participation in the small bands category? Surely they were embarrassed by the participation of the New Opportunity Corps Steel Orchestra (very impressive orchestra) and the Republic Steel Orchestra (very impressive pannists). Mr. Editor, I venture to suggest the musical instruments of the ‘Ivy Leaguers’ be handed over to the ‘Under Class’ whose love of the art form manifests itself perennially.
Finally, serious lovers of steel pan music, such as myself would like the distinguished musicians and mathematicians of the Ministry of Culture to explain in simple, non-esoteric language and symbols, the method used to arrive at “.5 of a point, or half a point”, the musical/ mathematical space or not that separated the champion small band and 100:1 outsider (Pan Groove) from the first runner up (DIH Invaders).
Perhaps a course entitled `New Mathematics for Judging Steel Pan Competition 101’ could be offered at our institution of higher learning. I, for one, an absolute dunderhead at Mathematics would be the first to enroll.
OSCAR E. HALL
SERIOUS LOVER OF STEEL PAN MUSIC