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Tribute To Women In Pan - 2005


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Caution: Very Sweet Pan Music, Very Addictive


A Bright Spark for the Future

Miranda Hohenkirk is a young lady who became interested in the steel pan after being introduced to the instrument by her father. He is a pan musician with Nostalgia steel band, and a steel band teacher in local schools in the London Borough of Newham. Miranda became one of the youngest players in Nostalgia Steel Band, a ‘pan-around neck’ steel band, playing the tenor pan and the double second in her father’s steel band combo. Her journey this far should be an inspiration to all of us involved in our community steel bands.

Miranda attended Edmonton County Secondary school where she studied music as part of the National Curriculum. The school had a steel band which was not very popular and rarely practiced at all. It was only offered to Years 7-9, and Miranda was not a member of the band. She was however involved in a community steel band under the inspirational teaching of Alan Baptiste, Pantonic steel band – and finally, with Nostalgia Steel band. Miranda opted to do GCSE music – first using the trumpet as her main musical instrument. Later, she learnt that she could change to the steel pan, and did just that. She was the only child who chose the steel pan as her main instrument, and spent two years composing two pieces to meet the certified requirements at GCSE level. Both Alan Baptiste and her father accompanied her – live – with pans, at her performance. The examination required her to record the music, and also to produce a music score sheet - for her music teachers and the external examiner. These were all recorded at the school: Two performances on her main instrument, the pan, and another on the trumpet. Miranda gained an ‘A’ pass grade in her GCSE Music Exam.

This spurred Miranda to pursue this subject area at GCE ‘A’ Level. For this exam, she was required to perform a twenty minute recital on the instrument of her choice, the steel pan. The pieces she chose were Blue Danube; The theme from Dr. Zahavago; The Elizabethan Serenade, Some Day My Prince Will Come, and another piece composed and arranged by her school music teacher. Miranda was helped by her pan music teacher and mentor, Alan Baptiste, who was instrumental in ensuring that her arrangements were as clinical as they could be. It was also important to him that Miranda attended to detail to ensure the best of her musical abilities.

The music scores were presented for all the pieces she played. In this recital, Miranda was accompanied by Allan Baptiste and her father, Freddie, who ensured that the background accompanying pan music was pre-recorded. This enabled Miranda to carry out her live performance of her selected pieces. Miranda also had a written exam paper to complete which tested her knowledge in world musical genres, and her listening skills. The pieces were not well chosen for their level of difficulty and Miranda had to work hard to project them to the audience. Most of the time she worked alone as her music teacher at school had many other pupils choosing more traditional instruments, needing support at varying levels. Miranda passed her ‘A’ level in music, and, with an additional two ‘A’ passes, was able to secure a place on the B.A. degree in Music – at Middlesex University. Her specialist music teacher – appointed by Middlesex University is Eversley Mills of Metronome Steel Band.

Miranda believes there should be more quality steel band teaching in our schools, and more school steel bands offering tuition to a wider range of the school student population. She is keen to enter the teaching profession after her graduation.

by Lionel McCalman

© and Courtesy PanPodium

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A Celebration of Women
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March 7, 2005 

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