Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Patricia Munroe - United Kingdom

“I eat, drink and sleep Pan and have now set up my own company (Panetiquette) to further promote the art form.”  She lives it, dreams it - she is it...  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - administrator, panist, musician, educator and performing artist Patricia Munroe shares her reflections, experiences and views on Pan, and the steelpan art form.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about Patricia Munroe”

Patricia M. - “I'm British-born to Jamaican parents, a mother to 2 wonderful supportive sons and grandma to the most beautiful grandson. From birth I have been surrounded by music and musicians. My father managed the family band (Eastern Variation) which included my mother, auntie and all of my brothers, therefore I have always been the baby of a very musical family.”


WST - “When and how did you first become aware of the steelpan instrument?”

Patricia M. “I first became aware of steel pans at the age of 8 or 9 years. I used to go to a youth club in a community centre in Leicester where the band I now manage (Contrast Steel Band) used to practice. Being young and mischievous I used to sneak out of the youth club to go and listen to Contrast whilst they were practicing, but got caught one night by the then-manager (Mr. Cyprian Jean-Jacques, RIP). He told me I wasn’t allowed to stand and listen and that I had to come play. That's what I did and I have never looked back since. I eat, drink and sleep Pan and have now set up my own company (Panetiquette) to further promote the art form.”


WST - “You are an organizer, performing artist, educator, steelpan player and music director. Which role do you cherish the most?”

Patricia M. - “As well as being an organiser, performing artist, educator, steelpan player and music director, I’m also a regional representative of the British Association of Steelbands (BAS). I cherish all of my roles and they all give me great pride and enjoyment, but teaching gives me the best feeling overall, particularly when I can see the joy others receive from learning about it and performing, as well as seeing them developing their team working skills whilst gaining self-confidence and a feeling of personal achievement.”

Patricia Munroe
Patricia Munroe

WST - “As musical director and manager of Contrast Steel Band, what is the biggest challenge you face?”

Patricia M. - “The biggest challenge I believe I face being the manager/musical director of Contrast Steel Band, is trying to find and introduce new players to the band who have the same level of passion for Pan as held by the longer-standing members of the band (including myself). It is really hard trying to keep the balance right to enable the band to continue its legacy of over 40 years. Just like other bands we also face the problem around rehearsal and storage space. Fortunately at the moment we are blessed to be based at Leicester’s African Caribbean Centre; let's pray this unity continues for years to come.”


WST - “Do you believe women are finally getting that acknowledgment they justly deserve within the steelpan music movement?”

Patricia M. - “I definitely believe women are finally getting the acknowledgment they justly deserve within the Steelpan movement. There are so many of us already within the fraternity and there are still many more up-and-coming; you can't help but take notice.”


WST - “What is the greatest challenge facing this current generation of steelpan musicians in the United Kingdom?”

Patricia M. - “I think the greatest challenge facing the current generation of Steelpan musicians in the UK is trying to continue and build the art form, in a society that is still a bit ignorant to accepting it as a proper musical instrument. As much as it is well-established here in the UK, I still don’t think it is really fully accepted for what it is outside of the pan fraternity.”


WST - “What keeps your passion for the instrument, the music and culture going?”

Patricia M. - “I've kept my passion for the instrument, music and culture going by reminding myself of the legacy I’m continuing which was obtained by hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Every year I play in the UK Panorama competition and I am working towards my dream of one day playing in Trinidad Panorama with my lifetime favourite band Desperadoes. ”


WST - “If you had the power to change something in Pan immediately what would that be?”

Patricia M. - “If I had the power to change something in Pan immediately it would be to introduce it on to the National Curriculum worldwide and make it compulsory for people to learn it from a young age.”


WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to Pan? ”

Patricia M. - “One of my proudest moments has to be when I received an award from the BAS for Outstanding Achievement in 2008. It also makes me proud to know that there are people like myself with a real passion for Pan wanting to share their knowledge and experience by being educators in the pan fraternity.”


WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelpan movement?”

Patricia M. - “As I mentioned before it really disappoints me to see that in the current Steelpan movement we still face the problem of acceptance as musicians, educators and performing artists.”


WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female panists all over the world who are dreaming of becoming involved with the steelpan instrument as a career move?”

Patricia M. - “My advice to the thousands of young female panists all over the world who are dreaming of becoming involved with the steelpan instrument as a career move, is to believe in yourself. Anything you want to achieve can be done with patience, hard work and determination.”


WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Patricia M. - “Panorama for me is about having some ‘me time’ and enjoyment. A chance to relax and be just a pan player, learning from someone else, having my musical knowledge stretched and gaining new ideas and aspirations.”

Patricia Munroe at Panorama 2015
Patricia Munroe  - UK Panorama 2015
photo by Robbie Joseph © Panpodium

WST - “Is Panorama a curse or blessing from your perspective?”

Patricia M. - “From my perspective Panorama is a blessing, I really can't see why it would be a curse. The competition is nice as long as it is treated fairly just like any other competition. ”


WST - “Who is your favorite arranger?”

Patricia M. - “To be honest I don't have a favourite arranger, but my favourite band is Desperadoes. I suppose at this stage I should say that Leroy Clarke is my favourite as I work closely with him and play UK Panorama with his band Real Steel.”


WST - “What is your vision for the steelpan instrument? ”

Patricia M. - “My vision for the Steelpan instrument is for it to be fully acknowledged, accepted and respected as a musical instrument worldwide. At the moment, some people still see it as a fun toy for them to ‘have a go’ on, or something that produces happy music to ‘make them feel like they’re on a beach’ or an instrument that doesn’t require skill so anyone can teach it.”


More on: Pat Munroe
Panetiquette
Steelpan Instructor/Consultant
Leicestershire Schools Music Service Music Leader
Contrast Steelband
BAS Regional Representative (Central)




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