Steelpan in Education Project

SV2G – Wycombe Steel Orchestra

SV2G UK Steelpan in Education Project – Arts Council England

St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2nd Generation (SV2G), secured £78,000.00, of which £50,000.00 was invested by Arts Council England.  SV2G set up the Wycombe Steel Orchestra two years ago, and launched a unique project that started in Trinidad and Tobago the summer of 2007.  Members of the Steel Orchestra went to the University of the West Indies to study the syllabus and accreditation system to pilot in the UK.  As well as taking the examinations in solo steelpan performance, the members received invaluable experience and training that enhanced their teaching and leadership skills.  An examiner from the University of West Indies will visit the UK to examine the cohort of pupils preparing for the examinations in Summer 2009. The delegation in Trinidad and Tobago met with several faculties and departments at the University of West Indies, Pan Trinbago, various schools, Pamberi Steel Orchestra, plus several other panyards (currently known as ‘Pan Theatres’), and the British Embassy.  There is currently no national graded examinations available in the UK, however this pilot project will research the possibility of an accreditation system for all to access in the UK. The project is supported by the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music, of which, a validated syllabus could see alterations made before the Board decides whether to open it up to the rest of the UK. 

SV2G employed the steel pan academy in Coventry to assist with their research by carrying out questionnaires to current steelbands and teachers in the UK.  Numbers and levels of pupils currently learning and playing steel pan instruments in the UK were ascertained.  The steel pan academy designed the questionnaire in two formats to accommodate both independent steelpan tutors/leader and head of music services at local education authorities.  Preliminary findings revealed that approximately 7,350 pupils were represented by responses in the UK, out of which 2,500 are currently learning to play pan by five tutors in Manchester alone.  Approximately a quarter of the sample represented currently use some form of scheme as part of their teaching.  Schemes that were available to observe indicated a majority included basic musicality and pan principles.  The final research of the project will not be published until the end of the project that will be towards the end of 2008.      

In November 2007, SV2G held a public meeting, invited all organisations and individuals involved in steelpan in the UK to be updated on their project.  The meeting concluded the need for a formation of an association of steelpan teachers and tutors.  As part of SV2G’s project, the formation of the association has materialised through the co-ordination of SV2G.

In 2008 at the Carnival Conference held at the York University, Toronto, Canada SV2G presented the project of which was received as an achievement in the development of steelpan instrument.

This project has also recognised and celebrated the creative achievements of young people, a celebration which offers encouragement to the next generation of a rich, diverse heritage of young people to continue exploring and developing their creativity.