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Students Graduate from P.H.I. (Electronic Pan) Programme

Chaguanas, Trinidad & Tobago, W.I.  - On June 10th 2010, nineteen (19) participants graduated from the Percussive Harmonic Instrument (P.H.I./PHI) Training Programme at the T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps Panyard, Enterprise, Chaguanas, in central Trinidad.

The programme was launched on Thursday 4th March, 2010.  Panadigm Innovations Ltd (PIL), working in collaboration with the Citizen Security Programme (CSP) and the Enterprise Community Action Council, conducted an eight-week training programme for the youth of Enterprise.

Group shot of the graduants of the P.H.I. training programme
Group shot of the graduates of the P.H.I. training programme. Far right: facilitator, Earle Philip and far left, demonstrator, Derron Ellies

National Security Minister, Brigadier John Sandy delivering the feature address at the graduation, stated, “It is only when young people are exposed to the fundamentals of responsible citizenship and taught how to appreciate their country’s history and diverse ethnic heritage, can they truly contribute to nation building.”  The programmes he said, “are sought out to provide a positive alternative to delinquency and anti-social behaviour for youths.” He further contended that the implementing of these programmes will be the government’s major facet to stop crime in the country.  “By exposing the youths of our nation to positive interest will indeed assist in alleviating our country’s current crime challenge,” he hinted.

Minister John Sandy delivering the feature address at graduation
The Honourable Minister of National Security John Sandy delivering the feature address

Minister of Trade and Industry and MP for the area Chaguanas East, Mr. Stephen Cadiz, was also present and highlighted that it was fascinating to know that “we can produce such an instrument as the PHI right here in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Among other invitees were the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Patent holder of the PHI, Professor Brian Copeland and the Mayor of Chaguanas, Ms. Natasha Navas.  Participants were given the opportunity to showcase to their friends and family what they learnt, rendering pieces that were derived from activities such as composing, arranging, sequencing and playing various instruments (tones) on a steelpan interface (PHI).  These were all taught by Mr. Earle Philip, another patent holder of the PHI.  Among the graduates, special awards were given to Trevon Sobers for the Most Improved Student on the PHI, Shauntee-Lee Edwards for the Most Improved Student behaviourally, Junior Jones for the Most Participative Student and Marvin Ralph for the Most Dedicated Student.

Youngest participant Julian Smith on the P.H.I.
Youngest participant Julian Smith on the P.H.I.

The PHI is the very first “electronic pan” ever created and patented.  It is what is known in the music world as a MIDI controller, although its physical form is inspired by the ingenuity of the traditional steel pan. MIDI controllers allow musicians to utilise equipment on a MIDI digital network to create, perform and manipulate music.

The Honourable Minister of National Security John Sandy embraces the youngest participant, Julian Smith
Minister of National Security John Sandy embraces the youngest participant, Julian Smith

Through MIDI, the PHI provides the player with access to a limitless range of instrument tones, including steel pan, piano, sitar, as well as a range of percussion tones. These tones can be played on a full three octaves of notes laid out on the familiar circle of fourths and fifths, commonly used on the tenor steel pan. Note shapes, locations and sizes are ergonomically designed and notes can be transposed anywhere in the musical range allowing the musician to easily switch from a tenor steel pan to a double second, cello, guitar or bass instrument.  All of this takes place on a single bowl or drum, making the PHI a highly portable instrument when compared to the traditional steel pan.

Graduates rendering a rhythm section on the P.H.I.
Graduates rendering a rhythm section on the P.H.I.

Panadigm Innovations Ltd. looks forward to establishing many more programmes such as this within Trinidad and Tobago, through collaborations with individuals, government organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who are willing to carry youth forward.

Courtesy P.H.I. News

Related article:  University students gain insight into steelpan innovations

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