From Heart to Hand
“Every performance brings me joy; it makes the long hours of practice worthwhile.” – Danielle George, Trincan president.
A steel pan is a staple sound from the Caribbean. Most people can hear the ting ting ting sound when they think of sipping a cold cocktail on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean isles. But did you know that that the steel pans had a very humble beginning? It started with a steel oil drum. In Trinidad, during the World War II, the founder of the steel pan realized that the drums that were left by the US army could be adapted to make musical notes. Each pan is a hand-crafted acoustic, tuned percussion instrument.
Danielle is no stranger to the steel pans. Her father started Trincan, a local orchestra of steel pans in Edmonton. Her passion for the music of the steel pan shines through when she talked about her steel pan family. It is a community of fellow musicians, that have a passion for preserving a Caribbean culture. Each week practice is two hours. They are on their feet, bent over a pan, using special sticks, to beat out a rhythm of a popular soca-inspired song. They practice notes that have been arranged for all the chords. You can hear the artistry of the songs coming through as they will sing-a-long to get the right notes. Their hands will fly across the pans as they belt out a harmonious tune.
When the steel pans are on the truck, parade goers get to hear the idyllic sounds wafting through the air. When they hear the crescendo, you can see all the cameras come out. The toes start to tap, and the hips begin to sway as if they were being taken away by a warm passing Caribbean breeze. This sound is synonymous with the heartbeat of the Caribbean. The hands that hold the sticks brings a community together. They want to take away your troubles for a minute so you can enjoy the music and see what they have composed over months of hard work.
Cariwest is giving an opportunity for kids to take part in a workshop. Learn the history of Steel Pan and how to play. Ages 10 and up. Register at www.cariwest.ca