Friday, April 25, 2014

Finding Your Niche As A Musician

Your personal niche in music will be determined by a number of things, including your specific preferences in music and lifestyle, your avenues into networks, the networks themselves, and your level of ability/qualification.

From a pan player’s perspective, your niche is, in some ways, blessed upon you by nature of the instrument you have chosen. The pan will always be synonymous with certain things (Disney, Jamaica) here in the U.S., and many people have found the pan underneath these popular spotlights. But the pan is an instrument capable of expressing a variety of styles and provides the artist many choices. Your musical voice will sound through your musical style choice, whether it be to stick with calypso, move to a fusion style, pan jazz, Latin, or pop. Styles also depict many other ancillary factors behind the music, like the people that associate with that same music, as well as the venues that house those styles.

Improve your professional network:

  • Align yourself with others in the area that share your musical interest.
  • Find out about your specific music ‘scene.’ Where can your style be found in your town?
  • Take lessons, for skill building and also networking.

Improve your playing:

  • Improve your chordal understanding. Music chords are the framework for pan players and many other instruments as well.
  • Think of your instrument mathematically. Pan is especially good for this.
  • Practice, and listen, listen, listen to other music.
  • Sing
Paul Munzenrider
Board Member
The Steel Pan Collective

Friday, April 18, 2014

SPC Membership: Interest vs. Commitment

This quote spurred a lot of inspiration and good things to happen this week.

The Steel Pan Collective (SPC) received our first donation to help get the organization off the ground. It was very generous and it reinforced our commitment (not interest) to get the organization off the ground.  Today, we keep things moving by finishing up some of the basic operational stuff.

Another form of commitment we are working hard on is the SPC membership. What is coming together is a portfolio of benefits that demonstrates our commitment to our members. SPC views its membership as something special for individuals and groups. You will be joining a community of like-minded pan players and supporters who want to see pan grow in our country. So when you send in your money for a membership in the coming months, you should expect in return an organization dedicated to making sure you get the most of your "pan" experience.

One of the areas I can mention has to do with the "unite" portion of the SPC vision triangle. One of our commitments is to make communication a little easier between members. Wouldn't it be great to know what is going on around the country and in your local area? We plan to write about what others are doing whether it be in a concert, launching a pan program for a school, or writing breathtaking new music for pan. We will make it a little easier to find other pan players, instruments, music, and venues. Just doing that will make the membership worth it. But we plan to do more than just that. So keep following this blog for news.

Much like the donor who gave us our first donation this week, we are excited and are committed to making the Steel Pan Collective an organization you will want to join.

Skip Waugh
The Steel Pan Collective

Friday, April 11, 2014

The SPC Steel Pan Music Festival

Recently, I was asked why all the activity around a steel pan non-profit. What is the point?

Well, we thought the steel pan community deserved to have a membership association. We wanted to build an organization that would be in it for the long haul. While it sometimes feels like we are starting out at a slow pace, we expect our patience to pay off. The Steel Pan Collective will be a vibrant and effective organization that is a mainstay for the pan community for years to come.

But one of the main reasons for the Steel Pan Collective's existence, aside from membership, is the organization's steel pan music festival. We envision the festival being a showcase for the steel pan community. It will be the centerpiece for what we do as a membership organization throughout the year.

So briefly, what would this festival look like? Well, we have some general concepts on format, place, and time. I can tell you my thoughts on what I think will happen the first year. First off, I see it being in the city of Denver. I see kids and adults getting their first taste of steel pan music outside in the beautiful Colorado weather. The performance lineup includes schools, community groups, and professional bands from Colorado and other states. And along with music, there is variety of tasty foods to sample for festival goers. Most importantly, I see a ton of smiling faces on the stages and in the crowds. It will be an event that evolves with each passing year.

So the planning begins for the 2015 event.

Stay tuned for more details.

Skip Waugh
The Steel Pan Collective

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Eyes Have Seen The Glory - The SPC Vision

According to the dictionary, vision is the faculty or state of being able to see. The business definition differs slightly. A vision or vision statement is an aspiration description of what the organization wants to achieve in the future. Ideally, it serves as a guide for choosing current and future courses of action.

The Steel Pan Collective (SPC) developed a vision statement to complement its mission.

Our vision is to offer every individual the opportunity to join and participate in the joyous steel pan tradition.  

It is as simple as that. Now think about that vision for a second.  I wrote last week about the three paths for SPC to realize that vision. Learn, Unite, and Perform. The three paths are the brainchild of fellow SPC staff member, Elizabeth.

When you think about those paths, it is a lot easier to "see" how we can support every individual when it comes to participating in the steel pan tradition.

This is what we see the future bringing.

Learn - Imagine children to seniors learning steel drums. We see them gathered at schools, community centers, senior living facilities, and adult education classes. We see steel pan integrating into regular music education. Wouldn't it be great if our organization partnered with educational institutions to bring steel pan to the masses? We think so. In a time when some school music programs are cutting back, the SPC could help offer viable alternatives.

Unite - It so important to share your interests with others. The bond is even stronger when those same people are interested in the same thing -like steel pans. What do you think it would be like to connect with other steel pan players? Well, we know it can be very exciting. Think about all the people from around the world who fly down to Trinidad to play in Panorama. There is a kinship and connection for steel pan players. Our goal is to make sure the SPC supports that same kind of connection.

Perform - The steel pan is meant to be performed in front of people. We want to encourage steel pan players to seek out, create, and be a part of their local music scene. Whether they perform in front of friends and family or take the stage at a music festival, steel pan players need to perform. Ideally, we see them coming to play in a huge steel pan festival right here in Denver. Performing shows how excited they are to share their love of the instrument. Performing is their way to celebrate the tradition.

So, the SPC is dedicated to offering every individual the opportunity to join and participate in the steel pan tradition. This is our vision.

Skip Waugh
The Steel Pan Collective