The Love City Pan Dragons are ready to grow as a community steel orchestra featuring performers of all ages.
CRUZ BAY — Want to be a Pan Dragon? But you’re not a kid? No problem!
The Love City Pan Dragons is ready to grow its original mission and become a community steel orchestra with members of all ages.
There is a strong tradition throughout the Caribbean of steel bands that are a happy mixture of adult and youth players, according to Pan Dragon board president Elaine Penn.
Steel pan, like any musical instrument, can be a lifelong pursuit, Penn points out.
But that message has not been getting across in the Virgin, Penn admits.
St. John currently provides no opportunity for adults to be part of a steel band and Pan Dragons youth members drop out at younger and younger ages each year, as they perceive steel pan orchestras here in the VI as only a children’s thing, to be abandoned as soon as schedules tighten up and pre-college demands heat up, said Penn, a long-time Pan Dragon member.
“We want to fight this sad trend,” said Penn. “We want to show our children that steel pan is not just something you do because your mom is at work or you need community service credits for high school, but something that you start as a child and pursue joyfully through your whole life.”
The Pan Dragons are not abandoning their mission as a safe, educational, character-building and culturally-enhancing after-school and weekend youth program, but they are welcoming adults to join the Pan Dragons in becoming musicians from scratch or to reconnect with their steel pan roots, Penn explained.
“We want you there not only to learn and play terrific music, but by your very grown-up presence to be mentors and examples for our children of discipline, commitment, and a lifelong love of music, steel pan and service to our Virgin Islands culture and community,” she added.
“We have openings in all sections of the orchestra and will work with you to find your best fit. Did you grow up as a Pan Dragon? Well, time to come home. Are you a newbie? If a third-grader can do it, so can you!” she enthused.
The Pan Dragons have a terrific instructor/arranger, Ikema Dyer, who has a lifetime of experience with groups of all ages, and who led his home band in Antigua to victory in their 2014 Panorama competition, and whose patience, determination and skill transforms children as young as seven into real pan players, according to Penn.
“You can expect not only to learn to play the instruments, but how to handle, set up and care for them, as any musician does who is part of an orchestra or ensemble,” the Pan Dragon official explained. “However deeply you want to immerse yourself in the steel band experience, we are ready to help take you there.”
“We will expect you as adults to have the capability to pay a modest monthly fee to help defray the costs of our professional instructor, tuning and maintenance of the pans,” Penn added. “Know also that we are a federally recognized 501c(3) nonprofit corporation; our board members have always served as volunteers.”
“Our doors are open from NOW for you to come and check us out,” the Pan Dragon official said. “Our regular practices at the Parks and Rec Youth Center across from the Cruz Bay fire station, are Fridays 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 3 p.m. These hours can evolve based on demand and need.
Call or text board president Elaine Penn, at 340-998-3726, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also talk to other board members, Greg and Josephine at Courtesy Car Rental, Ann Monsanto at BMV, Catherine Lee at Tunick, or Ruth and Hulbert Frett.