Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Tiana Parry - United Kingdom

“I want to see steelbands selling out venues across the UK. I also want to see steel pan televised and seen equally to other instruments in the UK.” 

She is a budding intellectual, legal scholar and panist who is very conscious of the value of the arts. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - Tiana Parry shares her feelings, experiences, and insight on the power of Pan, the Steelband music art form and more.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about yourself - who is Tiana Parry?”

Tiana P. - “I am 20 years old, currently completing my final year at University studying Law with Quantitative Research. I am primarily a three-pan cello but also a tenor player.”

WST - “How and when did you first become involved with Pan?”

Tiana P. - “I was first exposed to Pan in my primary school which had a small band. The tutor gave an assembly showcasing the band but unfortunately, I was too young to join as it was only open to the older year groups. I went home and told my mum about it and she asked around and got me involved in my local band outside of school. I was eight I think, and played cello. The next year I played in my first Junior Panorama and on the road at Notting Hill Carnival. I later joined the school band and when I was in year six, my sister and I set up a lunch time steelband club for those who were too young to join the school band.”

WST - “What keeps your passion for the instrument and art form going?”

Tiana P. - “It definitely helps that it’s such a beautiful sounding instrument (when played correctly of course). I love that it is such a versatile instrument. From solo performers to full Panorama-sized bands and everywhere in between. From Soca to chart music to classical arrangements. A lot of what keeps my passion going and also growing, is my pan family and pan players around the world who I aspire to play like, but also seeing the development of players in Endurance and the impact I can have on that development.”

Tiana Parry
Tiana Parry

WST - “You are a member of Endurance Steel Orchestra in the UK; talk about your time as a player with the band?”

Tiana P. - “I have pretty much been a member of Endurance Steel Orchestra since it was established. I knew Marlon, band founder and arranger, from my first band and it was my dad actually who saw in the local newspaper that he had started his own band. I joined the band as a tenor player; at the time I’d recently got my own tenor pan. After a couple of years, I moved back to cello. I had a short stint on bass for junior Panorama. Before I went to Uni, I helped out teaching in the children and adult bands. I have been Panorama cello section leader for two Panoramas with Endurance. During my time in the band I have developed a lot as a musician and had the opportunity to play lots of different events in a few different countries.”

WST - “Do you perform with the band year-round, outside Panorama? If so, what are some of those experiences like?”

Tiana ParryTiana Parry

Tiana P. - “I do perform all year round with Endurance. The best gigs and experiences are the ones that have the same energy as a Panorama performance (just with a smaller band). Our band leader teaches us that every performance has an audience, however small, so every gig should be performed with the same level of energy and highest level of execution.”

WST - “What are some memorable moments for you regarding Pan?”

Tiana P. - “One of my most memorable moments was Endurance’s first Panorama. We had worked very hard that summer, and it was a lot of the players’ first Panorama. Other moments have included traveling to Amsterdam to play in their international steel band festival, my first New York Panorama with PESO (Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra), and my first time playing on the road in 2007 with Comets.”

WST - “What are your feelings about the annual Panorama competition in general?”

Tiana P. - “A competition like Panorama is great for the individual player. I have seen a lot of players develop just by working on the same ten minutes of music. I appreciate that Pan in the UK is given a platform. But a platform is all it is. More needs to be done about eradicating, or compensating bands for, the cost of taking part in the competition. Whether this be making it a ticketed event, applying for funding, or otherwise.”

WST - “What are those eight/ten minutes like on stage for you, performing in Panorama - how do you feel?”

Tiana P. - “Those ten minutes are a time for the whole Panorama band to come together, in execution, in energy. In Trinidad for example, bands get a few ‘chances’ at that ten minutes. In the UK you get one shot. In that moment, with adrenaline flowing, nothing else matters but the music and the unity of the performance.”

WST - “Being female, were you ever cautioned or perhaps dissuaded in any way, from becoming involved in the steelband art form?”

Tiana P. - “I was never discouraged from being involved. There have always been quite a few females playing in Endurance. More generally, there are a lot of strong pan women in the UK representing and advancing the art form.”

WST - “What do family and friends think of your involvement in steelband?”

Tiana P. - “When I first got involved my parents loved it. Somewhere in the middle they felt it was taking up too much of my time and interfering with my studies. Now, I think they’ve come to accept how important it is to me and love that I’m so passionate about it. My friends have always been supportive of my involvement, even if I had to explain what the instrument was at first. A lot of my friends now are from Endurance or other bands so [they] understand the commitment.”

WST - “Have you ever had challenges in illustrating/explaining the actual concept of the steel orchestra, and/or your own role in it - to co-workers or friends?”

Tiana P. - “I wouldn’t say I have had challenges but it’s definitely not uncommon to have to explain what it is. I’ve been to interviews where the interviewer will notice the teaching experience on my CV and ask about the instrument. I’ve gotten used to explaining it.”

WST - “Who is your favorite arranger and why?”

Tiana P. - “A good (Panorama) arranger has to be able to tell a story in those ten minutes and also present the emotion of the song. A few arrangers who have done this recently, who I haven’t yet had the pleasure of playing with are Duvone Stewart and Amrit Samaroo. As a cello player, strong cello lines and a well-placed hop strum will also score points with me.”

WST - “What is your opinion regarding Pan in the UK?”

Tiana P. - “A lot of people in the UK still don’t know what Pan is, and a lot of people who do, still see it as a novelty. I was lucky to have a steelband in my primary school and I think a lot of children in the UK would benefit from learning the instrument as it teaches discipline, and you can learn it without needing a lot of knowledge of music theory or how to read music.”

Tiana Parry
Tiana Parry

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

Tiana P. - “The respect for the instrument. Whether that be knowledge of it, or simply local councils appreciating the need for rehearsal spaces where local residents will not complain about the ‘noise.’ There also needs to be more respect for Pan as a career, but to some extent, this is a problem for musicians generally.”

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

Tiana P. - “The lack of support between bands. As a new band, a lot of people did not expect Endurance to survive more than three years. If we all supported each other a bit more Pan would advance a lot quicker in the UK. At the end of the day, we all have the same or similar enough goals.”

WST - “What advice would you give to young and upcoming females who would like to follow in your footsteps as a female steelpan musician?”

Tiana P. - “Go for it, work hard and stay committed. A lot of females have gone before you, and even more will follow afterwards because of you.”

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

Tiana P. - “Both. It’s easy to get distracted by the competition and the music and forget about the sacrifices a band has to make to attend Panorama. These sacrifices are even more apparent for small, relatively new bands like Endurance.”

WST - “Overall, what is your vision for the steelpan instrument?”

Tiana P. - “Short-term vision – every person in the UK at least knowing what the instrument is. Long-term vision – I want to see steelbands selling out venues across the UK. I also want to see steelpan televised and seen equally to other instruments in the UK.”

Tiana Parry
Tiana Parry

WST - “After playing Pan for some time, several young adults eventually cease playing. Do you have any plans in this regard?”

Tiana P. - “Definitely not. Although, unfortunately, I may have to become less involved, I don’t have any plans to stop playing.”

WST - “What is next for Ms. Tiana Parry?”

Tiana P. - “First and foremost, graduation. Regarding pan, I’d like to continue to develop as a cello player. My next goals are to work on my knowledge of musical theory and also improve as a solo player on tenor.”

photos provided by Tiana Parry

   Tiana Parry performs with Endurance Steel Orchestra at the International Steelband Festival 2017

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