The authentic Trini steelpan on display in the UWI Museum serves a lot of purposes: It is an artifact in its own right, donated to the UWI by a former alumna who became Prime Minister of the twin-island republic that gave birth to pan; it conjures T&T and the UWI St Augustine Campus there; it is a unique musical instrument. It also provides the museum the occasional opportunity to fill the space with the signature sound.

But it can also go out of tune – which is a key factor for the final of those purposes listed above.

Recently, we had the chance to have our pan tuned when Jamaican ethnomusicologist David Aarons came to visit the museum, fresh back from research in Ethopia (Check back to David’s Guest Post last May:

Of course we jumped at it, and also asked if we could record David at work for the benefit of those – like most people who came in that day – who had never seen this phenomenon.

So click below to share the experience. The video is about 14 minutes long, much of it music, especially at the end. So enjoy in your own way.

Thanks again David! Same time next year?

Oh yes – we’re looking for an expert and enthusiastic tenor pannist who would like to volunteer to give the pan an occasional workout. Be in touch if you’re that person!


  1. Very interesting. Hope you can get David back next year. Suzanne, have you ever done a piece on pan at UWI from the early days? In the ’60s, no fete at the union would be complete without the pan orchestra. I so remember Gemmy Morris with his Rasta wig panning away


  2. Good idea for a blog post but what would be really great is if we find someone to do a Guest Post!! Anyone you can persuade? And anyone with photos to go along? Anyone with one of those really old Playboys or UWI Steel or other pan hiding under a bed somewhere?
    We did have a cameo exhibition on UWI Carnival early 2016 as part of an on-going effort to get more on that and on UWI’s part in growing steelpan in Jamaica; hopefully we can grow that and bring it back stronger.


  3. Greetings from Takoma Park, Ethiopian capital of Maryland! We just spent a wonderful morning coffee listening to the delightful tuning and playing of the steelpan by David Aarons – thank you! And thank you Suzanne for such an inspired posting, and to Marjan too I believe for some helpful questions. With much appreciation for this blog – your neighbors from the North.


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