Holiday Itinerary

SteelPan Holidays offers you a truly unique holiday experience in Trinidad and Tobago. Our program aims to immerse you in the world of the steel pan at the same time as giving you the opportunity to enjoy the best that the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago has to offer.


Remember, your personal itinerary is flexible and is based entirely around your wishes. You may join in as much or as little as you want, go on independent trips or spend days lounging by the pool.


Some days will be busier than others. On shorter days we are able to add on as many or as few extras that you would like.


The following is on offer, though the sequencing may vary seasonally and according to weather.


Day 1 - Arrival

Arrival day where you will check into your hotel and get settled.


Day 2 - Making a Steel Pan

Making a Steelpan is a highly skilled and well-respected craft. Few people involved in the Steelpan making process are credited for their remarkable ability. Our Steelpan makers use the traditional method which involves a 55 gallon metal drum as the starting point. The Steelpan making process involves:
1) SINKING
2) MARKING
3) COUNTER-SINKING
4) GROOVING
5) CUTTING
6) BURNING


You will visit the workshop where you will be able to watch these craftsmen working at close hand, freely interact and ask questions and maybe get "hands-on" and have a go yourself.


Day 3 - The University of Pan

Pioneers from the world of Pan, along with senior faculty from the University of the West Indies, will explore the development of the Steelpan industry in Trinidad and Tobago and worldwide. A series of talks, films and demonstrations given by distinguished presenters, performers and arrangers will trace this journey from it's humble origins in the 1920's to the present day global phenomenon it has become. It will explore the influence of Pan in West Indian culture, history, literature and film as well as it's influence in countries far beyond the Caribbean. What does the future hold for Pan both as an instrument and a movement?


The day will be both exciting and informative.


More Topics and guest speakers will be confirmed.


Day 4 - Tuning

A good Tuner is a well respected and highly sought after person. The tuner's craft may be learned relatively quickly but it can take up to 30 years to perfect.


Today is very much a hands-on day where you will begin the journey of learning how to tune a Steelpan.


Our certified Tuners will be on hand to provide insight and advice on developing your tuners ear as well as learning the necessary skills.


Day 5 - Island Excursion

Today is a day out and about exploring the beauty of Trinidad. Depending upon weather conditions and the season we are able to offer one of the following three locations.


Maracas

Maracas Beach, on the mountainous North Coast, is approximately 30 minutes from Port of Spain. It is the most popular beach in Trinidad. There are lifeguards on patrol and warning flags posted to mark the safe bathing areas. There are changing facilities, picnic tables and snack booths selling a variety of Trinidadian favourites including the famous Shark and Bake.


There is a small hotel and a few rental beach houses at Maracas. Within one minute of the beach is the Maracas Bay Agritourism Park which has mini-golf, fishing, a children's playground, fireside cooking and a setting designed for relaxing in nature.

Caroni Swamp Centre

The area, known as the Caroni Swamp, is located approximately 30 minutes south of the capital city of Port of Spain and is a 15,000 acre area of marshland, mangrove swamp, brackish and saline lagoons and tidal mudflats. The area is home to over 186 species of birds that include cattle egrets, snowy egrets, ospreys, herons, plovers, and jacanas. In addition there are 32 species of bats and other mammals including red howler monkeys and white-fronted capuchin monkeys along with various types of caiman. The highlight of any visit to the Caroni Swamp is the unforgettable sight of the Scarlet Ibis arriving in their thousands to roost during the last two hours of daylight. Guided boat tours are available.


Asa Wright Nature Centre

This is Trinidad and Tobago's premier birding location and has been widely recognized as one of the most successful eco-tourism stories in the world. It is possible to see one hundred and fifty nine species of bird at Asa Wright.


Asa Wright is located on a former cocoa-coffee-citrus plantation and compromises nearly 1500 acres of impressive rainforest. There are numerous trails throughout the property and very knowledgeable guides. The highlight of any visit to Asa Wright is simply sitting on the verandah and watching or photographing the wide array of birds that come to the feeders. Don't miss the beautiful manakin lek bird do a courtship dance to attract a mate, as well as the spot the agoutis and matte lizards.


Day 6 - Percussive Harmonic Instrument

Today is spent in a fully equipped recording studio getting to know your way around a P.H.I - Percussive Harmonic Instrument. The P.H.I. is an electronic digital instrument which is rather like a cross between a traditional pan and a synthesiser.


This day is led by an instructor who will teach you the basic principles of the P.H.I. including how to play it.


The P.H.I. is a MIDI-based instrument shaped like a traditional Steelpan. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.


It can be compared to an electronic keyboard for percussionists and Pannists in that it creates a new dimension allowing an infinite variety of sounds and virtual instruments whilst still using the shape and form of the traditional one.


The P.H.I. has a 36-note layout in 12-note concentric circles following the popular spider-web layout of the 4ths and 5ths tenor pan familiar to most Pannists.


Day 7 - Protective Finishing

A protective finish is added to the Steelpan to prevent it rusting and to make it more attractive. The most common finishes are Chrome plating and, more recently, powder coating. The powder coating process is more durable and uniform and gives an attractive finish. The Chrome gives a shiny metallic appearance.


Today's activity involves visits to the Chroming factories and the Powder coating facilities.


Places on these chroming tours are extremely limited but vital in your appreciation of the Steelpan industry.


Day 8 - Arranging and Teaching

Today is designed to provide you with skills and techniques that will greatly enhance your development both as a pan player and as a teacher of pan. It is a "Teach yourself and Teach others" day where you will gain appreciation and experience in Steelpan arranging and teaching methods.


You will be taught the techniques, knowledge and skills necessary to confidently design and deliver pan teaching sessions, either on a one to one basis or to groups.


Regardless of your ability level you will have the opportunity to receive some formal training in teaching pan where you will be observed, assessed and given feedback with suggestions on how to improve in the future.


For people not wishing to teach pan, the same arrangements apply but the focus is purely on your own playing techniques.


What is covered?

  • The teaching process—from requirement analysis and learning objectives through design and delivery to evaluation, validation, and feedback
  • Writing learning objectives
  • Teaching techniques
  • How to structure a group training sessions
  • Presentation techniques
  • How to measure the effectiveness of teaching and give feedback


Day 9 - Panyard Visit

This day is spent at a prominent Trinidad and Tobago Panyard. You will practice with the Steelband and soak up the unique and exciting atmosphere of a large Steelband preparing and perfecting its routine.


A Panyard is traditionally the place where Steelpan instruction is given. It is a great place to get experience and to gain an understanding of the development of the Steelpan with its ever expanding possibilities. It is also great fun.


Participating in a Panyard will give you an unforgettable firsthand insight into the roles and functions of the family of Steelpan instruments as well as a truly memorable experience. The vibrancy of a Trinidad panyard is palpable. Raw energy and sheer musical ability combine to produce moments of mesmeric beauty.


Day 10 and 11 - Tobago Island

The last two Days of your SteelPan Holiday is spent on the beautiful island of Tobago.


Considered by many as the true Caribbean, Tobago offers its guests a unique travel experience. Tobago is a beautiful, unspoiled island that hasn't been ruined by commercialism. The Tobagonians are a kind, shy and friendly people, and fiercely proud of their island.


  • Tobago is south of the hurricane belt
  • Empty beaches - and not a tower block hotel in sight
  • Fabulous snorkelling and scuba diving
  • Championship golf and fishing
  • An abundance of bird and wildlife
  • Known as 'Robinson Crusoe' island
  • Oldest protected rainforest in western hemisphere
  • No poisonous snakes or dangerous sharks
  • Coral reefs, manta rays, angel fish, wild parrots

You will visit a Tobago Panyard and have the opportunity to discuss and feedback on your holiday experience at the SteelPan Holidays leaver's dinner and awards.


Transport to and from Tobago will be via the new high speed catamaran service from Port of Spain to Scarborough. Leaving Trinidad we will sail through the famous Dragons Mouth, as written about by Shiva Naipaul in Beyond the Dragons Mouth. Christopher Columbus called it Las Bocas del Dragon.


We will travel in our air conditioned minibus accompanied by our regular driver. This makes trips and excursions in Tobago both easy and familiar.


Day 12 - Departure Day

Last day on Tobago island before the return flight from Trinidad in the evening.