Ronald Matthews

Introducing Ronald Matthews.Ronald Matthews is a highly qualified steel pan tuner as well as being a steel band arranger, performer and steel band leader. His masterful tuning work includes the remarkable Artist Series Lead pans, which he produces exclusively for VistaPan. Thirty years ago, Ronald started his pursuit of tuning excellence by completing every available tuning program in Trinidad at the top of his class, including advanced steel pan tuning programs and university level programs at both UWI and UTT. His love for the art of steel pan tuning shows in each instrument he touches. Ronald performs with the large Panorama band, Arima Angel Harps and is their resident tuner.  He has traveled extensively to conduct steel pan tuning workshops in the US, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East.   At the same time, Ronald, who is a skilled musical arranger, has founded and leads a professional steel band in Trinidad called PanExcel Steel Orchestra, which he also uses as a vehicle to … [Read more...]

John Skoczen

   Introducing John Skoczen.John Skoczen is International Sales Representative for VistaPan, but is also an active steel pan musician.He currently performs on his VistaPan Artist Supreme Lead and Double Tenor steel pans primarily in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but has enjoyed a long musical career playing throughout the Caribbean and many other regions. A percussion major in college and an excellent set drummer, John has explored world rhythmic traditions by learning to play an impressive assortment of instruments he has collected from the far reaches of the planet. His new CD, entitled "Shades of Pan", is being mastered now.   It features a live jazz rhythm section with a Caribbean treatment to some classic tunes.  John truly  enjoys talking and communicating every day with pan people from around the world. He gets a special joy from helping beginners, professionals and steel band programs choose the superb pan instruments they need to realize their musical goals. Click here to … [Read more...]

How to Safely Hang & Move a Steel Pan (Steel Drum)

  How to Safely Hang & Move a Steel Pan (Steel Drum) The thing that you least want to do with your steel pan is to drop it, which is very bad for the instrument.   Notes can easily go out of tune when a steel drum is dropped and sometimes the pan will never sound as good as it did before being dropped.   What is the best way to put your steel pan onto the stand?  Hold your steel pan with both hands and with 4 fingers firmly under the rim so it can't go anywhere.  Then with your thumbs on top of the  rim, you can controll each of the 2 loops.  When you go to set the steel pan on the stand, it's very easy for your thumb to guide that loop onto the notch of the stand.  Guide the loop onto one side first and then the other and you will never have to worry about dropping the pan.  This is important to show any children in a steel drum band program if they are going to be allowed to handle the steel pans.  Sometimes, when there is not a lot of time, you might want to move a stand and … [Read more...]

How to Mute a Steel Pan (Steel Drum)

  How to Mute a Steel Pan (Steel Drum) A mute for a steel pan can easily be made from car door trim that you can find in any auto parts store or even at Walmart.  A lot of instrumentalists, like trumpet players,   use a mute to lessen their sound.  Sometimes they can save a gig for you if you are performing in a very small or especially loud space.  Also, you may need to practice and the neighbors are complaining or your own family  is saying it's too loud.  This is when a mute for your steel drum can be very handy.  Car door trim is a very good way to mute a steel pan because a pan has an edge on the bottom of the skirt and car door trim happens to fit right over it very easily.  There is a chrome looking trim for your chrome pan and a black trim that looks great on a black steel pan. There are two kinds, however. One has some glue in it and you may want to avoid that and get the kind that doesn't have the glue. You'll find it just basically snaps on the bottom edge of your steel … [Read more...]

VistaPan in Beijing, China

 The Harrow International School took delivery of 15 new VistaPan steel pans in 2013 and started the first steel band in the cultural center of mainland China. First directed by Amanda Woollam and now by Jenny Finch, they have played many successful concerts. They make full use of the instruments with several bands now performing, including a community steel band for parents, teachers and other adults.   VistaPan sells a full range of steel drums and carries all the accessories needed for steel pan performance.   We have Instructional Books available now, in addition to many accessories!     … [Read more...]

Chrome Polishing Your Steel Pan (Steel Drum)

  Chrome Polishing Your Steel Pan (Steel Drum) One of the most basic things in maintaining your steel pan is to wipe the note area with a clean dry cloth after each time you play and to chrome polish your steel pan about twice a year.  Its really pretty simple but there are a few things to know.  Of  course you need the polishing product.  The two most common ones that you find are the Turtle brand chrome polish, which is very inexpensive and the Mothers brand in the red container, which costs a few dollars more but does produce a better shine on your steel drum.   You can use two different cloths, - one to apply the polish and one  to clean it off.    Cotton cloth works well.  If you don't have cloth available, you can buy a pack of extra large white undershirts inexpensively.   First, make sure to thoroughly shake the bottle.  Then squeeze out about the amount of polish that would equal about the size of a soda bottle cap onto the cloth.  Lightly rub the polish on your steel pan … [Read more...]

How to Make a Pair of Steel Pan Sticks (steel drum mallets).

  How to Make a Pair of Steel Pan Sticks (steel drum mallets). Here's an easy way that you can make a pair of steel pan mallets (also called steel drum sticks) for just a few dollars. Steel pan sticks are not that expensive but also are not normally available in your local music store, so what do you do when your dog chews the rubber tips off your mallets or maybe you lose a pair and you have a rehearsal or a gig to play that night? You will not want to use these as your main playing sticks because steel pan mallet makers make a great effort to choose lightweight materials and create balance and just the right feel with the mallets they make. However, you can make an acceptable pair of steel pan mallets that can get you through your gig or rehearsal. The materials you will need will be an ordinary but sharp pair of household scissors, a roll of Scotch tape, reusable latex rubber cleaning gloves that are usually yellow in color and that you can find in a dollar store. To make your … [Read more...]

How to Fix an Out of Tune Steel Pan Note

  A Magnet can be a Steel Pan Players Best Friend This is the first in a series of blogs and videos we are calling "Tricks and Tips for Steel Pan Players". One of the most useful tricks is for a steel pan player to carry an ordinary refrigerator type mallet. . This is the type of magnet your local pizza shop hands out for you to put on your refrigerator. What do you do when a note on your steel pan goes completely out of tune?  What if you have a performance tomorrow or you just want to be able to  practice your steel drum without hearing the annoying sound of an out of tune note?  You call your tuner, because you know never to attempt to tune your steel pan yourself.  One wrong hit and your instrument may never be the same.  But what if the steel pan tuner lives hundreds of miles away or is not available to tune your steel drum before you need to play it. Fortunately, more often than not, when a note goes out of tune on a steel pan, it goes sharp. This is where the magnet comes in. … [Read more...]

Pan Pop Paradise in Tokyo, Japan

 The "Pan Pop Paradise" steel band from Tokyo is shown here in concert playing their steel pans. They have a busy performance schedule and also record for Columbia Records in Japan.  VistaPan sells a full range of steel drums and carries all the accessories needed for steel pan performance.   We have Instructional Books available now, in addition to many accessories!     … [Read more...]

VistaPan in Switzerland

  The Red Steel Dragons are a steel drum band conducted by Bernard Raz in Switzerland. *They have now purchased many modern VistaPan steel pans to augment the original red barrels of their orchestra.   We have Instructional Books available now, in addition to many accessories!     … [Read more...]