The idea for PanKind came to Lyndon one sunny afternoon as he was stamping up a shell for a new handpan at the PanAmor workshop in Exeter. It occurred to him that not only did he love playing these instruments and was fortunate enough to be involved in the process of making them, but that he was also a qualified teacher who had taught various percussion workshops for several years. He had recently lost his mum to cancer, and had taken his handpans into the hospice that she was in to play for her and the other patients, so was also becoming increasingly aware of the therapeutic potential of these instruments. He shared the beginnings of this vision with Laura, his wife that very evening.
In the following months this idea blossomed into something quite extraordinary. Since January 2019 we have tested our idea in a wide range of settings with some extremely positive results. We were very fortunate to become involved with an organisation called Local Spark Torbay, who have helped take us this idea and develop it into what it is today - the first Social Enterprise company that uses handpans in educational and therapeutic settings.
For the past 15 years Lyndon has played, performed and taught West African percussion. He spent his childhood and early adolescence living in several African countries and has always had a love of this type of music. He studied West African percussion with Senegalese Master Drummer Cheikh Diop throughout his twenties.
Six years ago he bought his first handpan and a new journey began. Lyndon worked freelance for 2 years with a superb company, PanAmor Handpans, helping to build these beautiful instruments. He was a PanAmor customer well before he worked with them, and has huge respect for the quality and precision of their workmanship.
Lyndon has a teaching qualification and has worked with adults with special educational needs and mental health issues for several years. He also regularly performs at gigs, festivals, weddings and other events
Laura is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and music leader. She has spent the last 16 years running youth music projects and working as a freelance practitioner leading music workshops for young people experiencing various challenging circumstances. Laura has an MA in Youth and Community Work and has worked with organisations including the BBC and the Philharmonia Orchestra. In the last few years she has used singing, songwriting, instrumental work and music technology in settings including CAMHS units, pupils referral units, young women's projects, young parent and baby projects, with young people experience poor health and with new families.
So, What Exactly is a Handpan?
The PanArt Hang, the inspiration for what we now know as handpans, was first developed in Switzerland in 2000. They are not technically a drum, instead belonging to the struck idiophone family. Until around 2010 PanArt were the only makers of this extraordinary instrument. It quickly developed a cult status and a reputation as something that was very unattainable, with at long waiting list and an extremely high price tag, making it all rather elitist. Around 2010 several new makers came onto the scene, however even 4 years ago they were still very difficult to find, and were still prohibitively expensive. The market has changed considerably, particularly in the past 2 years, and there are now at least 150 makers worldwide. The availability of these instruments has increased and their price has become somewhat more affordable.
As a result of the number of new handpan makers, these instruments are becoming far more available, and a lot more people will have the opportunity to buy them. Their sound is mesmerising and instantly recognisable. They are, however, still not cheap. This reflects the amount of time, skill and precision that goes into their production - A good quality handpan retails from anywhere between £1000 - £3000 depending on the number of notes, the maker and geographical location (for some reason they tend to be much more expensive in the US than elsewhere in the world). This does mean that often people want to have the opportunity to play one before they commit to buying. There are also a number of companies out there selling very poor quality instruments for high prices, preying on new players who lack experience and knowledge. People often want to explore different scales of handpan to get a feel for how they play, as each scale is very different. We would like to be able to help people make an informed choice when purchasing one of these instruments.