Iguana Panjammers – Afterschool Steelpan Practice

Year: 97 – 99
Grade: 7th-9th
Place: St. Thomas, USVI

The stories I could tell about the afternoons spent in the panyard at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School would be enough to fill a book. But, I promise this isn’t a tell all because some of my friends would hunt me down and tie my hands from ever writing again if I did.

So, here’s the sanctioned rundown of my afterschool days with the awesome Iguana PanJammers………

I don’t know at what point during Junior High that I had decided to join the steelpan with my friends, but that is one day I would never regret. Those were some of the best days of my young life.

Almost everyday after school we would get to our duties of rolling the steelpans from the storage unit down to the hall where we practiced. From the bass drums to the tenor pans were hauled down the schoolyard to their positions; tenor bass to the far left, bass drums to the far right, cellos and guitars in the back, and in the middle of it all the tenors, double seconds, double tenors, and drums.

My steelpan of choice was the one that played the lyrics, which might have been destined for me anyway as I always loved to write music, the tenor. Give me two sticks and a beat and I could make lovely music with my tenor.

Afterschool steelpan practice

Rhythm Alone

Once we had all gotten into the rhythm of things and learned how to play our chosen instruments, sometimes we would start playing in the hallway even before our instructor came to direct us. My favorites were ‘In The Mood’, ‘The Classic’, and one that name escapes me, but it had the wickedest bass line. Dum dada dum dada dum dada dum. Don don don, don don don, don don don doooon. (I will have to check in with one of my friends for the name and update this post.)

But when that song came on, all hands were always on deck to play, even if it was just for fun and not for any practice. Don’t talk about when we were in the parade. If you weren’t behind a pan, you were trying to get someone off of their pan so that you could play that song.

Best Pan Instructor Ever

Our band leader, Mr. Samuel Lawrence was the best and the funniest instructor ever. My band mates can chime in on our many peltings and raggas we used to get.

We could sound beautiful to everyone one else around us, but he never failed to remind us when we played ‘a pack of s@#$’.

And don’t talk about when he is mad at someone, especially one of the tenor players or bass players. He would throw a stick so hard after those boys whenever they egged him on or mocked him.

When Sam threw a stick everybody ran, then everybody laughed. It was all in love and fun.

Those were the days.

Memorable Moments

My favorite memories from Pan days:

  • our Christmas Concert at High School
  • playing for Carnival during the parade
  • Panorama St. John
  • Christmas at Sam’s place in Kirwan Terrace (fun times)
  • our beach parties on Brewer’s and Vessup

OMG. Between learning how to play steelpan (wish I had a tenor pan all now), to spending time with some awesome people afterschool, those were some of the best days of my life. What I would give to relive those moments once again.

Oh well, guess that’s why I have this blog after all. Dum dada dum dada dum dada dum.

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Did you play an instrument in school? What was it and do you miss it today? Let me know in the comments. And somebody please tell me what the name of that song is that is stuck in my head now…..

6 thoughts on “Iguana Panjammers – Afterschool Steelpan Practice

  1. Marcia Bruno

    This was a great read!! It brought back great memories. Well as the former Steal Band Captain I approve of this reunion :,D. Kidding. I miss you all!!! and look forward to meeting up again.

    Reply
    1. Island Gurl Post author

      Well now that we have your approval………. 🙂 Glad to be of assistance on the memory train. Those were some good times. Miss you too!! One day we’ll seriously get that reunion thing together.

      Reply
  2. Chelayne

    I miss those days. I enjoyed them all the way up to high school until y’all left me…lol. I really hope we get this reunion off the ground it would be great to see almost everyone.

    Reply
    1. Island Gurl Post author

      Yep, we had to move on to high school at some point. 🙂 Iguana PanJammers Reunion 2018 would be nice!!

      Reply
  3. Kyle Keye

    Great and interesting article. Brought back a lot of good memories. Besides being one of those kids that got the stick thrown at me lol. Surely miss my bandmates and rest in peace to those who are not longer with us. (Jamal)

    Reply
    1. Island Gurl Post author

      Yea. I think most of the guys had a stick thrown at them at least once. Lol. Fun Times. Miss you all!!

      Reply

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