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*Trinidad: Culture and Pan Music

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

IntroductionAcademicsLocation Faculty Program Director CostsDatesApplication


The MU International Center sponsors this winter break, faculty-led study abroad program in collaboration with the School of Music. MU professor Julia Gaines will lead this three-credit program in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in conjunction with the University of Trinidad and Tobago. It is open to both MU undergraduate and graduate students, as well as non-MU enthusiasts with an interest in steel pans.

The program will focus on the history and culture of Trinidad as well as the preparation for Panorama, the largest steel pan music competition in the world. The two weeks will include several classes focusing on the history of pan, pan arranging and future pan developments in addition to evening visits to many panyard rehearsals. Excursions may include visits to rain forests, beautiful beaches, tropical reefs and bird sanctuaries. This is a fantastic opportunity for any student interested in visiting the birthplace of pan.



All students who join the program will be enrolled in one MU course for a total of three credits.

MUSIC 1029: Music Travel Course (3) will take place during winter break and will consist of a two-week trip to Trinidad and Tobago. During this time, intensive study of the Trinidad/Tobago culture and music will occur through classes and excursions. Particular attention will focus on steel pan music, including history and arranging classes, evening rehearsal observations and field trips to local pan manufacturers. No prerequisite or music background is necessary.

Academic credit

All students will be enrolled in an actual MU course. All students are guaranteed to receive MU credit for the successfully completed course; however, students must work with their academic adviser(s) to obtain pre-approval as to how courses might fulfill degree requirements.

MU students: Grades will calculate into students' MU GPAs and appear on students' MU transcripts when grades are recorded by the faculty program director. Students must work with their academic adviser(s) to obtain pre-approval as to how the courses might fulfill degree requirements.

Non-MU/visiting students: Transcripts will be issued from MU and can be mailed to students' home universities. Students must work with their home universities to determine how credit from the program will transfer. The MU International Center will issue one transcript per student to one domestic address, as indicated on the student's Non-MU Student Application for Study Abroad. Additional MU transcripts for study abroad must be requested and purchased from the MU Registrar.


Accommodations and meals

Students will stay at a guest lodge located on the outskirts of the beautiful Port of Spain with shared rooms and private baths. Most breakfasts and dinners are included in the program cost -- students will be responsible for all other meals on their own.

Host city and surrounding areas

While it may have the same tall, modern buildings, flashing lights and crowded streets as most cosmopolitan capitals, Port of Spain is still a quintessential Caribbean town rich in welcoming culture, rhythmic music and beautiful ocean views. Visitors will find no shortage of things to do during their stay, whether it be a stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens, enjoying the sun while relaxing in Queen's Park, diving into the blue waters of the Caribbean or taking in a performance at the National Academy for the Performing Arts. Port of Spain, while serving as Trinidad's economic and political center, offers visitors both ocean and mountain views, as well as the sights, sounds and tastes of a truly international city. A visit to the panyards is an absolute must according to travel experts! You should also make time to wander the many shops, Spanish warehouses and outdoor vendors around Brian Lara Promenade/Independence Square and Frederick Street.

Tentative itinerary

  • Jan. 3: Arrive in Port of Spain, Trinidad
  • Jan. 4: Orientation, tour of National Academy of Performing Arts, visit National Steel Symphony Orchestra, and panyard visit
  • Jan. 5: Class, rehearsal, panyard visit
  • Jan. 6: Maracas Beach
  • Jan. 7: Class, rehearsal, panyard visit
  • Jan. 8-9: Overnight to Tobago
  • Jan. 10: Pitch Lake
  • Jan. 11: Tour National Museum, class, and panyard visit
  • Jan. 12: Class, rehearsal, panyard visit
  • Jan. 13: Free day and farewell dinner
  • Jan. 14: Depart Trinidad

Faculty program director

University of Missouri faculty member, Dr. Julia Gaines, MU School of Music, will accompany the students to Trindad.

Faculty-led programs enrich the study abroad experience as well as the MU campus by providing students opportunities to study other cultures and disciplines in depth while gaining new perspectives on our own society. Faculty leaders serve as mentors, role-models and resources as students explore their host institution and country.

Faculty Director Julia Gaines

Julia Gaines

Dr. Julia Gaines joined the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Missouri in 1996 and is currently the Associate Professor of Percussion. She conducts the University Percussion Ensemble, the World Percussion Ensemble (which includes MU Steel), coaches the Graduate Percussion Ensemble, and teaches two semesters of the percussion techniques class required for music education majors and applied percussion lessons for approximately 16-18 music majors.  She is also the faculty adviser to the MU Percussion Society, a student organization that promotes percussion performance and education on the MU campus and throughout the mid-Missouri region.

Dr. Gaines received her DMA degree from the University of Oklahoma, her master's degree as well as a performer's certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and her bachelor's degree from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin.  She has been a member of the Percussive Arts Society for over twenty years and recently completed a two-year term as Secretary of the Executive Committee of this international organization.  After serving in this capacity, she was hired as associate editor of Percussive Notes, the official publication of PAS, overseeing twenty writers that review new percussion literature and audio/visual material for each of the six annual issues.  She has performed in Europe, South America and all over the United States and is currently working on research regarding the objective grading of four-mallet marimba literature.  Dr. Gaines serves on the Pro-Mark Education Advisory Board and is a member of MENC, MMEA, MTNA, and Pi Kappa Lambda in addition to being a Wakonse Alumni Fellow.


Program Budget

Additional Expenses

In addition to the program costs paid to MU, you will have expenses associated with international travel and living abroad. The amounts listed are estimated costs based on current exchange rates and on the information provided to us by your host institution and past participants. Depending on your personal spending habits, you may spend more or less than the figures provided.

Please note that these expenses do not include vacation travel or sightseeing.

Financial Aid Information

If you are awarded financial aid for study abroad, it will be applied to your MU account according to the regular financial aid disbursement schedule. Reminder: You must be enrolled in study abroad and have completed the required financial aid forms for study abroad in order to be considered for aid.

Because non-resident tuition charges apply, MU students should be eligible to use non-resident scholarship towards the program costs.

Dates and Deadlines

Term Application Deadline Program Start Program End
Winter Break 2015/16 09/21/2015 01/03/2016 01/14/2016


We are delighted that you are applying to study abroad. This is the first step of your journey, and while there is a lot to do, it should not be overwhelming. Once you apply for the program, you will have an electronic checklist to help you through the process. In addition, our study abroad staff are available to answer your questions.

  1. Meet with the MU International Center study abroad adviser listed in the program snapshot if you have any questions.
  2. Start an application in using the button below if you are an MU student.
    • Non-MU students should visit our page for Non-MU participants for more information about the application process.
    • Once you have started an application, you can return to it later by logging in to myStudyAbroad (see the button at the top of the page).
  3. Complete your application. There will be several documents that need to be completed for the application. While specific requirements vary by program, a typical application consists of the following:
    • Material submissions - Printable forms which require the physical submission of materials.
    • Signature Documents - Items you may digitally sign (if you are over 18 years of age) to indicate your agreement and understanding.
      • Program confirmation and conditions of participation
      • Financial Planning Worksheet
    • Recommendations - Recommendations may be submitted electronically by MU faculty and staff.
    • Application Questionnaires - Items that you complete and submit electronically.
      • Application Certification
      • Essay
      • International Center scholarship application

This program is not currently accepting applications.

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