By Lincoln DePradine
Winston “Pappy’’ Frederick is extremely proud of the steelpan, a Trinidad and Tobago invention and says he wants pan “to be accepted as any instrument in the musical ensemble of the world’’.
Frederick, a former president and pannist with Trinidad’s Dunlop Tornado Steel Orchestra, noted that “pan is only 60 years old’’ and “it’s coming along’’.
However, he maintains his desire for “pan to be accepted all over this universe as a bona fide instrument, so that I can take it into any orchestra’’.
He argues the reason that pan is not where it’s supposed to be, universally, has to do with the cost, production and accessibility in purchasing the instrument.
As an example, said Frederick, a person could easily purchase a guitar or saxophone. “Pan is not like that,’’ he told The Caribbean Camera. “You can’t walk around the corner and get a good pan to buy.’’
According to Frederick, the manufacturing of the steelpan “is one of the biggest downfalls in having pan as a worldwide instrument’’, since it’s not available to a potential purchaser “on a snap. There’s also the quality of the production. The quality of the instrument you’re going to receive, from place to place, it has not been standardized yet’’.
Frederick recently graduated from York University with a Bachelor of fine arts honors’ music degree, with an emphasis on the steelpan.
At an early age, Frederick showed an interest in not just playing music but learning music as well.
He studied music in Trinidad before emigrating to Canada and enrolled at the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto.
“I studied classical harmony at the Conservatory of Music for four years,’’ he disclosed.
Frederick also was a student in the Humber College Jazz music program, focusing on the piano. He graduated from Humber with a diploma in general arts and a science music major.
Frederick – skilled as a pan musician pianist and drummer – worked as a music instructor with the Toronto District School Board, retiring after 15 years to establish his own private business, “Frederick Academy Music Production’’.
He keeps a busy schedule as a tutor, performer, lecturer, workshop host, and musical director of the Oshawa Sound of Steel.
Last year, Frederick was part of a half-hour recorded workshop with the Toronto Symphony, and also was featured in a two-hour performance at the Royal Ontario Museum.
His busy schedule of engagement – community events, performances for schools and corporations, lectures and workshops – increases especially in February, when Black History Month is celebrated.
Frederick said studying and playing music at York University were a memorable experience.
“I played on my pan with every single orchestra at York University. I wrote the music and showed them how it could be instrumented, he said.’’