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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.

One of the pre-carnival fun things to do is visit the pan yards during practice.  You can meander through the sections and watch them play, totally immersed in the sound.  The players concentrate on their music and seem oblivious to the visitors wandering around them. They practice the same section over and over and over again.  The melody echoes for days.

One of the cruisers now at TTYC was born in Trinidad but left when he was eighteen.  At the time he left, the island was still under British rule so he left under a British passport.  Smitty moved to the States and subsequently became an American citizen, served in the military, and worked with computers.  After retirement, Smitty bought a boat and began to cruise.  He returned to Trinidad and decided to learn to play the pan.  He had played guitar in a band as a teenager, but had never played pan.  He is now a member of the Silver Stars Pan Band.

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