Pan players learn new musical pieces, not with sheet music but by repetition, by ear, and/or by one showing another how to play the song.
The source of all instruments is a 55 gallon drum with one end removed and the other end heated and pounded to make notes.
The tenor pan is a single drum cut to a width of eighteen inches with 25-30 notes whereas the bass pan is a full 55-gallon drum with only a few notes. The tenor pan player has one drum but the bass pan player stands surrounded by seven. Other drums of varying widths produce notes between those of the tenor and bass. Many of the pans are chromed but the bass drums are usually painted.
In the old days, the players walked and carried their pans on a strap around their necks. Now, rolling metal frames with wheels are pushed or the frames are put on truck beds and driven. In addition to the pans, there are drum sets, bongo drums, and assorted percussion instruments to accent the beat.
Pan players may be male or female and range in age from the very young to the very senior. Bands practice Monday through Friday from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM. In addition, sections practice independently of the full band practice. Playing in a band is incredibly time consuming and most players must also attend school or work.
A local woman commented that pan had saved many of the country's young men. Occupied by pan, they didn't have time to do drugs or get into trouble.