Jaischelle, 13, carries on family tradition of playing pan

Jaischelle James playing the steelpan at last day of the Proman Starlift Steel Orchestra camp. - Photos courtesy Proman
Jaischelle James playing the steelpan at last day of the Proman Starlift Steel Orchestra camp. - Photos courtesy Proman


The steelpan isn't known for being the easiest instrument to play. But 13-year-old Jaischelle James is taking the time to perfect the craft with the help of her family and Proman Starlift Steel Orchestra.

She said of all the instruments, she chose this one because she comes from a family that is rich in the history of the pan.

"My grandfather, Cecil "Jimo" James, has been involved for over 60 years as well as my great aunt, Daisy James-McClean, who was the first woman to play the steelpan," Jaischelle told Newsday Kids.

"I feel proud knowing that she is my family and her accomplishments has also brought history to my name. She has inspired me to keep playing."

Pan Trinbago Keith Simpson told Newsday Kids James-McLean is known to be one of the first women to play the steelpan and has been doing so for 70 years now. She's played for Casablanca and a number of other bands, but now is leader of her very own band, Harlem Syncopators Steel Orchestra.

Michael Franco, captain for Proman Starlift Steel Orchestra, presents Jaischelle James with her certificate for completing the camp and performing to mark the end. -

Jaischelle, a form three student of Downer's Educational Institute, Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, has only been playing for two weeks, but already picked her favourite song to perform.

"My favourite song to play is Sugar Island by Carl Jacob because it captivates the true essence of my island."

She said she loves playing because she love learning new instruments and learning the notes are exciting for her.

"I like being able to learn about the notes the most to generate the sounds."

This big sister of two – 11-year and one-year old girls – said right now she isn't encouraging them to play the pan, but will start soon.

Aside from playing the steelpan, Jaischelle has other hobbies such as track and field and swimming. She said she has been doing these since she was seven.

"I like to do these because I like being in different activities, it keeps me fit, I get to challenge myself and make new friends."

Jaischelle said when she grows up, she wants to be a lawyer as it is an opportunity to help people as much as possible.

She encouraged other children to play the pan as well.

"Learning the instrument can open your mind and challenge you."


"Jaischelle, 13, carries on family tradition of playing pan"

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