Mindfulness and Jing Ping Music- Part 3: Steel Pan

Steel Pan music emerged from the tradition of enslaved African people creating new musical inventions to compensate for their drums and other instruments being taken from them by slave owners. Slave owners often thought that the drums and other instruments were communication tools being used by slaves to plan revolts and uprisings. Therefore, they were often confiscated and destroyed. Then similar or new instruments were invented by those African slaves and their descendants.

Steel pan music is often cited as originating and being popularized on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad and Tobago in the southern tip of the Caribbean chain of islands. The melody of steel pan music is distinctively Caribbean, and the instrument has now been used to play almost every genre of music.

As an African Caribbean American person, I have found that much of my humanity is centered around rhythms, and various spiritual guiding principle associated with my African and Caribbean roots. One of those is my love for steel plan music. Therefore, during my services as a counseling intern in the Chicago area, I have used steel pan music to help clients bring and keep themselves to the moment. This is especially when their minds are occupied with depression associated with past experiences, or anxiety about anticipated future encounters. I introduce it as part of mindfulness, and clients often cannot resist trying to play the instrument.  They often report that it brings them joy and relaxation.

In the video that is linked to this blog, I use the steel pan to play a rendition of one of my original songs entitled, “The Jing Ping Saved my Life when COVID came to Town.”  At the beginning of the video, I explain some aspects of mindfulness, then I introduce the lyrics and rhythm of the song. However, in the actual playing of the song on the steel pan, I switch the rhythm around to break the music flow. Following the broken flow of the music is one way of keeping attention to the moment, and not necessarily the anticipated repeated rhythmic patterns. In other words, the rhythm is more difficult to follow, but that is intended to help the onlooker stay in the moment of the various notes. Try it.

Enjoy the mindful moment. Here is the link to the video: https://youtu.be/2jJd0umvNpU

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