Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

 

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

Follow When Steel Talks
WST google search WST Forum WST facebook page WST on Twitter   WST Steelpan music videos on You Tube WST Newsletter Global Steelband listings

  Bookmark and Share

Meet Crystal Noel - Trinidad & Tobago

“...funding is the most serious issue. Pan is hard work - talent or not - and most times the reward for playing pan can never compensate for the long nights on your feet or the 6-7 days of practice just for one competition or one ‘play-out.’ I think if pan was taken more seriously in Trinidad then it can actually be a source of revenue for a lot of people. But as I always say... we don’t do it for the money we do it because we love it.”

She is a veteran double tenor panist for the perennial Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama Champions, Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks -  Crystal Noel shares not only her love for the instrument and culture, but her personal journey and on the minimum required investment in Pan for a successful sustainable global outreach.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

When Steel Talks Women Logo

WST - “Tell us about yourself - who is Crystal Noel?”

Crystal N. - “I was born and raised in Arima. Started playing pan with the Arima Centenary primary school in Standard 1 under Gary Straker. Currently a frontline double tenor player with the Massy Trinidad All Stars. Beside pan I’m an avid netballer and a numbers girl.


WST - “When and how did you first become associated with the steelpan instrument?”

Crystal N. - “Started playing pan under Gary Straker in the Arima Centenary Primary school at the age of 7. Entered our first music festival that very year and emerged winners. Travelled as far as Scotland with it and I wouldn’t trade it for any other instrument - and it seems I’m not about to give up on it 23 years later.”


WST - “Tell us about being a woman player in the world-famous Trinidad All Stars.”

Crystal N. - “I’ve always wanted to play with a “Town Band” as I found that bands from the east lacked the discipline that was instilled in me through the Gary Straker pan school. Set my eyes on Trinidad All Stars after seeing the band, and the vibrancy and excitement the players had while performing. Therefore as soon as I was old enough I joined; that was in 2006 when we played Soca Warriors. Being a woman player in Trinidad All Stars wouldn’t be much different if I was a male to be honest. To me everyone gets treated equally and there are no gender issues. If you can play pan you can play pan, that’s it.”


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

Crystal Noel
Crystal Noel

Crystal N. - “It has been something that I’ve been doing for such a long time that it’s become a part of me. I don’t care too much for the results at the end of a season but I really just enjoy the actual season. The long nights and playing a part about 50 times just to ensure the entire team has it, is what it’s all about for me.”


WST - “Which Pan is your favorite and why?”

Crystal N. - “The double tenor of course. That’s the pan I started off on and although I have played all the pans before I always come right back to it. Not many people like the pan because of the tone and also the location of the notes makes it one of the most difficult pans to play, but when you can master it you can play any pan.”


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

Crystal N. - “I would change how we promote the instrument. We in Trini only view pan as seasonal, therefore most people think pan can only be heard during the carnival season for Panorama; but honestly pan can be and is played right through the year. It can be played at any occasion including, parties or even weddings.”


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

Crystal N. - “The most proud I have been was placing 2nd in a competition at the age of 16. It was a scholarship competition for talented teens and I played ‘Flight Of The Bumblebee’ on a double second. I got a standing ovation for the performance and people talked about it for weeks. I am still to this day unable to reenact that performance to that standard, LOL.”


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

Crystal N. - “The “fight down” amongst bands for Panorama. Most people don’t understand that it’s just a competition and there must be a winner and a loser. Just accept it and move on, but I guess some take it wayyyyy more serious than I do.”


WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female players all over the world who are dreaming of following in footsteps such as yours?”

Crystal N. - “Just do it! You can do anything you put your mind to, sometimes even surprising yourself so go ahead and try.”


Crystal Noel
Crystal Noel

WST - “What is the most serious challenge facing Pan in Trinidad & Tobago?”

Crystal N. - “I think funding is the most serious issue. Pan is hard work, talent or not, and most times the reward for playing pan can never compensate for the long nights on your feet or the 6-7 days of practice just for one competition or one ‘play-out.’ I think if pan was taken more seriously in Trinidad then it can actually be a source of revenue for a lot of people. But as I always say... we don’t do it for the money we do it because we love it.”


WST - “Who, and what are you musical influences?”

Crystal N. - “The late Gary Straker. He taught me everything I know about playing pan to make me into the player I am today. Beside him Mia Gormandy, she’s an excellent player!”


Crystal Noel
Crystal Noel

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

Crystal N. - “Anywhere you can hear or have the opportunity to play the steelpan is a blessing. I always look forward to the season.”


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

Crystal N. - “I would like to see Steelpan as a more integral part of the economy and not just associated with Panorama. It should be the forefront in our promotion of Trinidad and Tobago and it should be in every concert we have with international acts/artists in order to get it out there... show people that this is ours and we are superbly proud of it.”


WST - “Are there any other steelband-related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Crystal N. - “Beside the fact that I think we should bring back the national steelpan music festival (it’s my favorite) - not really.


Crystal Noel
Crystal Noel



Prelim Panorama Panyard Performance

Their Story, Their Voice, Their Life, Their Dreams - click for more stories

Leave a comment in the WST forum

 
When Steel Talks shirts
now available!
Order yours now!
When Steel Talks -- T Shirt

 

 



Join When Steel Talks