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Put national instrument in every home, school'


■ Melissa Maynard


EVERY Trinidadian should be able to play pan, an expert on the musical instrument has said.

Akua Leith, director of sales and business development at the Musical Instruments of Trinidad and Tobago Company Ltd (MITTCO), suggested this as he spoke with reporters after the company hosted President Christine Kangaloo and her husband, Kerwyn Garcia, to view the process of manufacturing pans at its Diego Martin facility, yesterday.

MITTCO, which opened on August 11, 2022, will celebrate its one-year anniversary tomorrow on World Steelpan Day.

On July 24, the United Nations declared August 11 as World Steelpan Day.

Leith told reporters that the company invited the President and was elated when she responded.

'This is an auspicious occasion for us; the fact that she responded positively really brought a level of excitement to us. In her inaugural speech (the President) talked about the panyard model, so you know she is coming in informed from a perspective of what steelpan could do for a nation like this,' Leith said.

MITTCO also prides itself as a campus as it focuses on educating people about the history of pan, Leith said.

'We want to tell the story of how steelpan came to where it is, we want to showcase what MITTCO is doing because we have a lot of plans pertaining to development, getting artisans trained up. We have a premium product that we want the world to see,' he said.

President Kangaloo did a full tour of the facility and was briefed on each stage of pan creation.

She also tried playing a gold-plated pan valued at US$10,000.

The tour started from the showroom then proceeded to production, grooving, tempering, polishing, branding (engraving, packaging), quality control, and finally, tuners corridor 'where we pay homage to our tuners from the past and the tuners of today,' Leith said.

Leith said schools and camps visit the facility almost daily, and he believes this offers the opportunity 'where we are able to plant in the youth minds possibilities of them getting into steelpan manufacturing, steelpan performers or even on a management level, admin level alongside our national instrument'.

He underscored the importance of pan in schools and also pan in every home as a Trinbagonian.

'Every Trinidadian should be able to play a steelpan,' he said, adding that MITTCO has a staff capacity of 25 people, and highlights the need for more artisans in the pan-making industry as there are few pan tuners and builders.

LESSON IN PAN: Mark Seunarine, a builder at MITTCO, demonstrates to President Christine Kangaloo and her husband, Kerwyn Garcia, the stages involved in pan manufacturing during a visit yesterday to the Musical Instruments of Trinidad and Tobago Company Ltd (MITTCO), eTecK Diamond Vale Business Park, Diego Martin. Looking on is director, Sales and Business Development, Akua Leith. -Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

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