Teaching Our Next Generation: MHS Band and Orchestra Visits Mililani Complex Schools

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By Lindsey Scott
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(Photo courtesy of Kristi Higuchi-Delos Santos) The MHS Symphonic Wind Ensemble went to Ike and Mauka Elementary schools on top of Mililani Middle School while the MHS String Ensemble went to Uka, Waena and Kipapa Elementary schools to perform.
(Photo courtesy of Kristi Higuchi-Delos Santos) The MHS Symphonic Wind Ensemble went to Ike and Mauka Elementary schools on top of Mililani Middle School while the MHS String Ensemble went to Uka, Waena and Kipapa Elementary schools to perform.

On Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, the MHS Symphonic Wind Ensemble and String Ensemble  reached out to their community by visiting Mililani Ike, Mauka, Uka, Waena and Kipapa Elementary schools, as well as Mililani Middle School. Hoping to generate an interest in music, the band and orchestra performed various selections and introduced each instrument individually to the students.

“There’s just a bigger value in the whole aesthetics and appreciating the music when you can see (actual) people performing,” said Complex Music Coordinator Kristi Higuchi-Delos Santos. “Our high school students explain their instruments and demonstrate how to play it—make a sound, play for the kids. (This gives) the (feeder) school students a sense of hearing the instrument independently and seeing how it works within a group. But it also gives our high school kids an opportunity to speak and to grow.”

Weeks of planning, rehearsing and organizing went into performing for the Mililani Complex schools. “As a band, there’s quite a bit of equipment in terms of the percussion’s stuff (that) we need to transport, so there’s logistical things that we need to take care of, like the renting of (the) Penske truck,” explained Symphonic Wind Ensemble Director Curtis Hiyane. Higuchi-Delos Santos added, “(I) planned the whole thing and made contact with the schools, (got) the logistics done and then let (Hiyane), the wind ensemble director, and (Bryan Hirata), the string ensemble director, know what (was) going on; and then they come up with the music (while) I go in about a week before (to) make sure that we have students who are gonna explain their instruments and do all of that and then get the bus set.”

The MHS students taught a variety of information pertaining to music and their own instrument. “Basically we’re introducing the orchestra to the (students) by presenting) the instruments of the orchestra and (teaching them) how sound is produced and how (we) perform on the instruments. So we talk about the instrument sizes, we talk about sound production, we talk about using the bow versus plucking and then, in addition to introducing instruments to them, (we try) to give them an idea of what the orchestra is capable of playing. So we play for them a combination of (classical) and popular selections,” said String Ensemble Director Bryan Hirata. “The elementary school visits are to give the elementary (school students) something to look forward to when they come up to the high school or when they go into the middle school in terms of the band instruments. So it’s an educational tool where we explain and demonstrate the different instruments in the band and then (go) over elements of music such as melody, harmony, blend and balance and just general elements of music that we illustrate through this music that we play,” added Hiyane.

While these visits expanded the horizons of the younger students, they also positively affected all of the MHS students who performed. “I think our high schoolers enjoy it because they get to go back to the school they went to. And I try to use students to talk about their instruments that came from that school.  For example, when we were assigning the wind ensemble kids to speak, you know, ‘oh, you’re going to do it because you went to Ike (and) you’re going to do it ‘cause you went to Mauka’. So, it’s about giving back to the school that they came from, but it’s also about, for them, feeling good about themselves and sharing their music,” explained Higuchi.  Hirata added, “I think the high school students really get a sense of contributing when they perform for the younger kids. And they really enjoy it, just sharing the music and sharing what they know about their instrument.”

Although it’s important for the students to show an interest in the music programs at MHS, introducing them to music in general is more important. “(We’re) creating a lifelong interest in music,” stated Hirata.

The band and orchestra will continue to engage in teaching the music lovers of the next generation with this annual tradition.