10 reasons why handpan gatherings should be on your radar

10 reasons why handpan gatherings should be on your radar

Hello everyone, it's been a while since I last attended a handpan festival due to the COVID situation! I can hear you booing me, and you're right! 🙂 I could come up with 12,000 reasons to explain this absence and justify myself, but in reality, I think I just forgot how much I need to go to handpan festivals.

Dear Handpan Enthusiast,

This year, I'm going to Pantribe, and I was thinking about what I've missed in these past years. I realized that there were many things. So, I wanted to broaden the reflection and think about the benefits of going to a festival. Here's what came out of it.

1. Immersive Musical Experience:

Attending handpan festivals allows you to immerse yourself in the captivating sounds of the handpan. These festivals showcase a wide range of performances by both seasoned players and emerging talents. Experiencing different playing styles, techniques, and approaches to the handpan can inspire you to push your creative boundaries, explore new musical avenues, and expand your repertoire. The diverse array of performances offers a unique opportunity for you to learn from others, gain fresh perspectives, and enhance your own playing skills.

2. Forming new friendships

One of the most compelling benefits of attending handpan festivals is the opportunity to make new friends. Being part of the handpan community means connecting with like-minded individuals who share a deep passion for this unique instrument. The welcoming nature of the community ensures that everyone feels included and embraced, regardless of their level of experience. Handpan gatherings serve as the perfect setting to break the ice and forge friendships that can last for years to come. You'll find yourself surrounded by people who understand and appreciate your love for the handpan, creating a sense of camaraderie and shared experiences. By the end of your first handpan festival, you can expect to leave with a full heart, unforgettable memories, and a growing list of new friends, some of whom may become lifelong buddies!

3. Networking and Collaboration Opportunities:

Handpan festivals bring together a passionate and supportive community of musicians, artists, and enthusiasts. These events provide an ideal platform for networking and collaboration. Engaging in conversations, exchanging ideas, and establishing connections with fellow musicians can lead to fruitful collaborations, future performances, and even professional opportunities. I enjoy stopping by the booths of the makers to chat about potential collaborations. I also love meeting enthusiasts who have plenty of ideas. I enjoy contemplating different accessories, the evolution of the handpan, and thinking about the things to do and innovate that haven't been done yet. Being immersed for several days with passionate individuals sparks so many ideas.

4. Skill Enhancement and Workshops

Handpan festivals often feature workshops/masterclasses conducted by experienced handpan players. These workshops provide valuable opportunities for you to refine your skills, learn advanced techniques, and gain insights into the nuances of handpan playing. From composition and improvisation to specific techniques, workshops cover a wide range of topics that can enhance your understanding of the instrument. All of this knowledge can be integrated into your own playing style, adding depth and versatility to your musical expression.

Beyond workshops, there are also educational opportunities such as panel discussions, lectures, and presentations by experts in the field. These sessions delve deeper into topics such as handpan history, instrument maintenance, tuning, and music theory. Taking advantage of these educational offerings can expand your knowledge and understanding of the handpan. I will always remember that panel discussion in the United States where manufacturers were talking about the craftsmanship. I left with an even greater admiration for their work and a sense of wonderment towards my own instruments. As I watched them, I couldn't help but think, "This is incredible!"

5. Inspiration and Motivation:

Attending a handpan festival can ignite unparalleled inspiration and motivation within you as a musician. The immersive environment, surrounded by passionate musicians and enthusiasts, creates an electric atmosphere that fuels creativity. Witnessing the immense talent and dedication of fellow handpan players acts as a powerful motivator, reigniting your passion for the instrument.

Moreover, handpan festivals have the potential to rekindle your love for playing the instrument. Sometimes, musicians may experience periods of lull or lose their motivation to play. However, the vibrant ambiance of a festival can serve as a catalyst for reigniting that fire. Being immersed in a space where the handpan is celebrated can inspire you to pick up your instrument again, even if it has been neglected or dropped for a while. The collective energy and remarkable performances witnessed at the festival can serve as a reminder of the joy and fulfillment that playing the handpan brings. It encourages you to dust off your instrument and reconnect with it.

As you witness the artistic growth and skill of others, you'll be motivated to push your own boundaries, explore new artistic directions, and experiment with different playing styles. The supportive environment of a handpan festival provides the perfect platform for you to take risks, try out new techniques, and expand your musical horizons.

I always tell my students who are lacking motivation, "Listen to a good handpan piece! Find someone nearby who plays and jam together!" Well, a festival is like that multiplied by 1000! You hear handpan music everywhere, and there are so many people involved. 🙂

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6. Cultural Celebration and Exchange:

It's incredible how there are handpan festivals everywhere: Brazil, Greece, Slovakia, USA, Japan, China, England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Thailand and more. Attending these festivals is discovering new cultures, countries and regions. It is incredibly enriching.

Handpan festivals not only celebrate the instrument itself but also the rich diversity of cultures and backgrounds among the participants. These events feature cultural performances, traditional music, storytelling, and more, showcasing the heritage and traditions of different regions. By immersing yourself in these cultural celebrations, you gain a deeper appreciation for the handpan's role in the global music landscape and draw inspiration from the multitude of musical expressions.

Attracting participants from diverse cultural backgrounds, handpan festivals create a space for cultural exchange and appreciation. Engaging with musicians and enthusiasts from around the world exposes you to a wide range of musical traditions, styles, and influences. Embracing this diversity enriches your own musical palette, infuses your compositions with unique elements, and cultivates a broader perspective on music as a universal language. The cross-cultural interactions fostered at festivals encourage exploration of new musical territories and the creation of innovative blends of musical traditions.

Personally, I love discovering new combinations. Handpan and harp! Handpan with effects! Handpan and Koto! etc. And I often stumble upon these discoveries in unexpected places, like a caravan or someone's bedroom, during a jam session.

And as a food lover, I have to mention all the delicious dishes we indulge in at festivals. I love the original food trucks, the small sandwich stands with unique offerings, the slow-cooked meals, the tasty woks, and more.

7. Discover and Try Many handpans:

Since the handpan is still a relatively new instrument, handpan players don't always have the opportunity to play many different types of handpans in person, especially as a beginner. Handpan gatherings provide the next best thing! Typically, at most handpan gatherings, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different handpans brought by gathering attendees from various makers, in various scales, and various crafting styles.

Handpan festivals serve as a hub for instrument exploration and acquisition. The makers present at these events offer a unique opportunity for you to get up close and personal with a wide variety of handpans. You can test different instruments, different scales, and even try different materials or pickup systems. This hands-on experience is incredibly enriching. Interacting directly with makers also gives you a chance to ask questions, learn about their craftsmanship, and gain insights into the unique features of each instrument. This knowledge can guide your decision-making process when it comes to acquiring your own handpan in the future.

Additionally, the generous and inclusive nature of the handpan community means that, at most events, you are welcome to play and share others' handpans too. Just go and ask a fellow musician, "Can I try your instrument?"

‍8. Exposure to Other Art Forms:

Handpan festivals often incorporate other art forms such as dance, Joggling, visual arts, and spoken word performances. This exposure to various artistic expressions can be inspiring and enriching for you as a musician. The fusion of music with other art is a reminder that music is part of a larger artistic tapestry and can be seamlessly intertwined with other art forms to create truly extraordinary experiences.

9.Good Times with Family Outdoors!

I see more and more families with children in the photos of festivals, and I think it's fantastic. Our second son Ben is not yet 2 years old, but I feel that next year or the year after, we should all go together. The children can meet so many people, creating wonderful memories for the family. They will have a better understanding of why Dad loves the handpan so much! My wife will understand why I have 15 handpans at home, hahaha. And you know, just beeing outside !

Many handpan festivals take place in beautiful outdoor locations, surrounded by nature. This setting offers a refreshing break from everyday routines and allows families to enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty together. Kids can have fun exploring the surroundings, playing games, and enjoying outdoor activities between musical performances.

10. I so wanted this article to have 10 reasons !

So here is my last advice!

Just do it! just go to a festival!

See you soon!



Photo credit: Myst Instruments

David Charrier

Player, Teacher, Blogger. Handpan Enthusiast.
Founder of Master The Handpan

David Charrier

Joueur. Prof. Blogueur.
Fondateur de Master The Handpan

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