Hilo High and Hilo Intermediate Band programs recently put on a winter concert in the Hilo High auditorium. Old creaky chairs (the same ones I sat in as a high school student many moons ago), proud parents, nervous students all made for a wonderful Hilo evening. We enjoyed pianist Harrison Bierman prior to the concert and between each band performance. Side note: Harry is not just an amazing pianist, but a runner as well. He ran with my son’s team in the last Hilo to Volcano Relay. Their team came in second place overall!
The Hilo Intermediate band students performed a mix of songs including the theme from Jurassic Park as well as holiday favorites. What fun for our middle school students, many of whom are planning to continue their music education at Hilo High. The Hilo High band students played holiday classics Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, and A Christmas Festival, as well as Sky Dance by Richard L. Saucedo, Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Greensleeves by Alfred Reed.
Yvonne Yokoe, band director at Hilo High School started her music education at Highland Intermediate School where she played tenor saxophone. She continued playing in band at Pearl City High School and it led her to earning her music education degree from UH Manoa. Yokoe previously taught orchestra and chorus at Moanalua Middle School and even taught music at Misawa Air Base in Japan. She has since moved back to Hilo and now works hand-in-hand with Hilo Intermediate School band director Corey Maesaka. Yokoe currently teaches band, orchestra and piano at Hilo High. Maesaka is a graduate of Waiakea High School and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He was previously the music director at Kau High School and band director at Waiakea High School. The Hilo complex schools are lucky to have Yokoe and Maesaka who work so well together. According to Yokoe, “Without middle school, there is no high school music program.”
My son is a band student at Hilo High School and my daughter is in the Hilo Intermediate School band program. I see them learning the theory of music and practice of playing an instrument, but more importantly, I see them working as a team and developing leadership skills while having fun at activities like band camp and field trips to perform for groups outside of the school environment. My daughter says that she enjoys the sense of accomplishment she feels when learning how to play new songs. My son enjoys the friendships he has with his classmates in band.
“Along with fun come important lessons in responsibility, commitment, time management, leadership and music skills that last a lifetime. Band provides a well-rounded experience that is excellent preparation for college and careers beyond High School. We select appropriate pieces to teach proper technique, expression, balance, and other music components for a comprehensive curriculum. It’s all about doing what’s best for the students. We strive for high standards while being practical and affordable, to reach as many students as possible,” Yokoe said. Both schools schedule many events throughout the year including performances at school functions, elementary schools, parades, band festivals, interscholastic joint concerts, as well as the annual winter and spring concerts. Yokoe hopes to see the Big Island music community continue to collaborate and build unity. With music programs like the ones at Hilo High and Hilo Intermediate, I’m sure that this vision is within reach. In fact, I saw my pals, Sean Sewake and Sandra Sato (brother and sister) who have been playing music their entire lives and are now sharing their knowledge and passion for music with our youth as clinicians for our middle and high school students. They also both play in our Hawaii County Band. I’m sure both Sandra and Sean are imparting their love for music with Sandra’s young twins too! In fact, they were not only there as clinicians but also to support Sandra’s older son who is in the Hilo Intermediate band program.
My family ended the evening with a visit to Cheng’s. I always order the same thing–oyster chicken with fried rice. YUM!