For more Headlines click here

Global Steelpan News

Principal with a Passion for Pan


News Release



Roseau, Dominica - Simeon Joseph is busy with all the challenges that present themselves to a person charged with the responsibility of playing a lead role in the development of a nation’s youth. Energetic but courteous youngsters, boys and girls, dashed about the schoolyard, as Joseph attended to visitors to the Dominica Grammar School in Roseau, Dominica, and to his students and staff. Part of the backdrop visual for the educational institution is the recently-built Windsor Park Sports Stadium.

The school is one of three in Dominica benefiting from a collaborative program through the Dominica Cultural Division and UNESCO via funding from the latter, to ‘put Pan in Schools.’  In December of 2007, the schools received steelpan instruments to facilitate about eleven students, consisting of sets of basses, tenor basses, guitars, double seconds and tenors.

For Principal Joseph, it was the crystallization of a dream held close to his heart for four years, about the time between the project’s concept and actualization.  Sitting down in his office with When Steel Talks (WST), Joseph was keen in articulating what the receipt of the steelpan instruments meant to his school. Already, there are more students (about forty or so, with a ratio of 60:40 in favor of girls) eagerly interested and awaiting their chance at being part of the school ensemble, than there are instruments to go around.

There were no stringent criteria to be met for membership in the fledgling orchestra, simply a personal desire, and a first-come, first-served basis for the school’s pan program which began officially in January 2008.  However, students of the lower section of the school were favored, as they would have a longer tenure at the institution and by default as members of its steelpan orchestra. They are in school for at least two to three more years, thereby affording the school an opportunity to build the technical prowess of the group.

It is safe to say that Joseph is passionate about pan, which he describes as a ‘mythical instrument.’ “…The evolvement of the pan, the whole concept, the use of the pan, the possibilities, and the way pan can be used… calypso, classical, any genre of music… if you listen to it played, if it is played well, it creates so much in the mind… [to consider]… philosophy, the psychology of life -- one can contemplate all that goes into the creation of the instrument…”

As an ideal timetable, in about three years, Joseph would like to see the steelpan ensemble developing from a group, to orchestra status, and become the leaders on Dominica’s pan scene, and also have joint performances and ventures with the school’s choir. Along with those aspirations, is the recording of CDs, as students extend and share their talents others, and play year-round. Joseph stresses that “it is not just about the school steelpan initiative, but also about benefiting the student, producing a more well-rounded individual.” The endeavor would “train students for the school as well as equip them to serve in their communities, because it is not just about the school’s program, but developing the students themselves, so that there could be legacy…” the principal declared.

To top it off, Joseph, who lived for four years in Trinidad, and would love to take his steelpan students there one day, happily informed WST that the majority of staff, himself included, had signed on to be among those tutored in playing the steelpan. As a result, he is enthusiastically looking forward to having the first teachers’ steel orchestra forthcoming from the Dominica Grammar School. Bi-weekly tutoring is currently being handled, and the instruments maintained, by Wilfred ‘Pancho’ Jno Baptiste, brother of the late Alan Jno Baptiste.

The institution allocated an older school room that was not in use, located on the second floor, as the steelpan room. Joseph says that the task of bringing it up to snuff is earmarked as a ‘steelpan members’ project’, and the responsibility is being handed to them to renovate and repaint.

Joseph anticipates not only the professional development of Dominica Grammar School’s orchestra to the point of the students performing publicly, but he envisages the time when Pan could be officially included in the school’s curriculum and available at the CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) O’Level for those interested in pursuing mastery of the instrument on such a level.

If you would like to help further the steelpan program at the Dominica Grammar School, contact Simeon Joseph at:; Tel: 1-767-448-2401 - ext (3486), (3415)

contact: Dominica Steelband Association | Anna Raffoul, President | email:  | tel: 1 (767) 448 2622

contact: Dominica's Division of Culture - Chief Music Officer | Pearle Christian |email:  | tel: (767) 449 - 1804

Related Articles:

contact -- When Steel Talks | email:

©2008 All Rights Reserved





To join mailing list, send an e-mail with Subscribe in the subject line click here


The Hottest Steelband CDs in Town!
The Yard Recordings Available Now! click to hear


©2008    All Rights Reserved - When Steel Talks

Home * Site Search * Headlines * Events * Pan GlobalMessage Board * Pan News * Pan Radio * Twitter * Facebook * About Us

Search for Anything Steelpan Music-Related

Custom Search