Student Spotlight: Melina Scott’s Steel Pan Orchestra


Author Melina Scott (first row standing, far right) and her band.

Melina Scott, Staff Writer

This summer, my steel pan orchestra, Pan Evolution, participated in two events. These events were really exciting for us, since we had been preparing and practicing for them for all year. Originating in Trinidad and Tobago, the Steel Pan and the Panorama competition are important aspects of Caribbean culture.

The culture of the steel pan is very unique. Steel pan practices in the summer are long. Some days, especially on those closer to the competition, we arrive at 6pm and practice sometimes non stop, until 2 or 3 in the morning. Most steel orchestras don’t make a profit. The bands are run by people very enthusiastic about the instrument and its main purpose is to provide a place for children and adults to learn a new instrument. That being said, we don’t get a luxurious space to practice in. Instead, we have an open yard with a few U-Hauls to store the instruments.

Every day for practice, players file in and set up instruments as they come. Soon enough we are practicing as a big band with either an arranger, driller or captain leading the practice. The arranger is the person that puts together all the music, the driller drills the band to fine tune the music and our playing skills, and the captain is head of the band. The band also includes tuners, parents, sponsors, other members and of course the players, or panists. Our band has about 65 members and there are different sections of players in the band. There are tenor pans that play the tune or the lyrics of the song; 2 types of bass drums that play background music; guitar steel drums that strum melodies and many more varieties of steel drums that are a part of my orchestra.

The first competition that we were a part of was Junior Panaroma and Regular Panorama. These competitions were very exciting. “It was great to win especially as a new band being less than one year old,” said Beverley Edinboro-Scott, treasurer of Pan Evolution. “Above all, it’s very exciting to be able to be part of a band of such unique instruments. Even though we came second, our performance as well as our costumes were outstanding and the music was absolutely vibrant as was demonstrated by the crowd’s tumultuous applause.”

We placed 4th out of 8 bands in the Junior Panorama competition and 2nd out of 10 in the Regular Panorama. For the players, the long and tiring summer paid off in the end because of these great placements in the competition. Our band placing so high in the competition, after managing splitting from another band and forming our own, makes us feel as if we won Panorama. Placing so high has encouraged me to make a bigger deal and invite more people to next year’s Panorama, since we are all thrilled.

For more, check out these videos:

Panorama Video

Junior Panorama Video