Handpans for Schools program

This instrument compelled me to learn music.
— Bevan Lynch

The intention

The handpans for schools program was conceived to make these magical instruments available to children at a critical time in their musical development. This is achieved by the donation of one handpan a year to a NSW school music department. Schools are invited to lodge an application to the program online and the successful applicant will be guided in the process of choosing a pan in a tuning that best suits the needs of their students. Key staff will also receive training in best practice for playing and maintaining the instrument.


During secondary and high school I attended regular music classes as part of the curriculum, but was never drawn to any particular instrument. I had been exposed to the piano and the guitar, but both seemed to require more finger dexterity than I was capable of. 
I was also an introvert and suffered from the crippling anxiety of having to play with or in front of other people who appeared to exhibit unnatural amounts of natural ability.

When I first started to play the handpan in January 2016 it was like my brain just went off like a fire cracker and I developed an instant thirst for musical knowledge.  I was struck by the simplicity and ease of the pan and mesmerized by the beauty of the sound that this intriguing instrument makes. I started to research the different scales they are available in and the relationships between musical notes.
I learned how to play in time, learned about rhythm, developed left/right hand coordination, and experienced a very powerful meditative connection with the instrument in the present moment while playing. Every person who meets a pan seems to walks away from the experience smiling.  This led me to want to share this instrument with others.

The instrument

The handpan falls into the family of instrument known as the idiophone. These are instruments that produce sound by striking the body of the instrument and include instruments such as singing bowls, gongs, and wood blocks.

It is a modern instrument that has evolved out of the Trinidadian steel drum. Shaped like a UFO, it is made from two steel domes, the top dome has formed areas knows as tone fields, each tuned to a musical note. The bottom dome has an aperture that allows the sound to escape from the enclosed resonant chamber, acting like an acoustic speaker, but also functioning as a playable area similar to a ghatam or udu, clay pot drums originating from south India and Africa.

care and maintenance

The handpan is made from steel and heat treated in a process called nitriding that stabilises the steels acoustic properties and also prevents rusting. Handpans require a quick wipe after use to remove finger grease and acids and occasional wipe down with oil or anti-rust treatment. They are best played with a gentle touch, as hard careless strokes or beating with a mallet may put them out of tune. Similarly, care must be taken not to drop or bump the pan.

Ongoing care and maintenance/repair costs for a donated handpan is the responsibility of the recipient school.

Terms and conditions

All ongoing costs such as insurance and maintenance tuning for a donated handpan are the responsibility of the recipient school.

Application criteria


Past recipients