One major difference in learning the music for Panorama is that memorization is required for performance. This is distinctly different than a classical music situation in the U.S. (though similar to many situations in the music industry as a whole).
Memorization has distinct positive aspects and drawbacks. It allows for musicians to truly internalize the music, getting them “off the page” and allowing them to move while playing, interact, and be more expressive overall. Memorizing the music takes quite a bit of time and repetition to do correctly. I have been practicing several hours each day – both in smaller and larger segments – just to get close at this point. One week out, I’d say I’m 95% memorized at tempo. I have to continue working to get 100% memorized or I hold back the whole steel band. Some challenges encountered while memorizing music include the possibility of learning something incorrectly (and then internalizing it wrong) and the possibility that the musician’s music reading skills might not get as much attention.
Additionally, memorization ideally re-focuses the performer away from their part as dominant and allows them to listen to the ensemble and understanding the contribution to the whole ensemble and their role in it at any given time.
Traditionally, in Trinidad, physical repetitions of aural models and imitation of physical gestures provide the musical transmission model. As a foreigner going to Trinidad, I have been using notation to expedite the process since my musical background is heavily reliant on music reading.
Lucy Green’s work on informal music education addresses the benefits of informal music education (transmission by rote being one aspect). The examination of musical learning in other cultures can help inform music education models and strategies used in the U.S.