Music rekindles tradition


By Althea Cunningham

An Vo was saddened when he could not truly make music with his peers during last year’s lockdown.

An Vo, guest writer

HAWAII HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM AWARDS 2022 – Honorable Mention for Blog

A world without music is like staring at a blank canvas. Like art, music expresses ideas and emotions using the elements of music, such as rhythm and timbre, to paint an auditory masterpiece.

For many, listening to music helps destress and bolsters one’s mood and energy.

Last school year, the music building was mostly deserted as the students of McKinley High School switched to remote learning in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

However, this school year, MHS’s Band and Orchestra, also known as BaO, returns to support and permeate the school with music and exhilaration as the school gradually returns to normalcy.

The McKinley Band is renowned for its support of McKinley’s football team by playing upbeat tunes at their games. In addition, the band plays music during school assemblies to support the school and community.

Playing pep band tunes and cheering with my peers to raise the morale of the McKinley football players as they played their game was the highlight of my freshman year, and I could watch for free.

What makes the music program phenomenal is it resembles a close-knit ohana. It is a team effort to ensure the program’s success because everyone has a place. My companionship with the program strengthens as I overcome challenges and perform and make music with my peers.

However, remote learning took a toll on the music program, extinguishing several traditions that make the McKinley BaO program unique.

I was saddened when I could not truly make music with my peers with the technical and personal issues that came with using a device to join online meetings and having to practice the flute and stay at home for the rest of the school year. My classmates could not play synchronously because it was difficult to hear each other through a screen and the devices’ connection can fluctuate which, in turn, delays the sound. In fact, I was unable to play at all to avoid waking my parents and neighbors since my band class started in the morning. Nonetheless, the McKinley BaO persevered through an erratic school year and I am proud of my peers who stayed in the music program this school year in order to rekindle the traditions that were lost and to relive the experience of making music together.

Under the direction of the new director, Joseph Nakamoto, the McKinley BaO is striving this year to support their school in its entirety.

For instance, on Oct. 16, the McKinley Band volunteered their Saturday to support the football team. Band members played pep band tunes and rallied with the cheerleaders in front of the school’s gymnasium prior to the football team’s departure. Although the band was unable to attend the football game, they still made an effort to show their support this way.

The McKinley BaO performed their first Halloween Concert on Oct. 30, meaning they have given light to a new tradition. This marked their first “normal” concert of this school year.

I envied the students who showed their school spirit by making music at the Halloween Concert in their flamboyant costumes. As I listened to the McKinley Orchestra start off the concert with their repertoire, I noticed my seniors from last year—who are now alumni—and my classmates watching the concert. I even reacquainted with a teacher and my band director from middle school, the person who taught me to play the flute. Seeing the familiar faces brightened up my night and motivated me to play McKinley Band’s repertoire with pride and tradition.

The McKinley BaO strives to give back to the greater community by forming a marching band and performing more concerts.

The band went to perform at the football game on November 27, for their first time this school year.

I am grateful for the memories and life lessons that followed my journey in the music program so far, as well as the connections I have made with people from different walks of life. Fellow McKinley Tigers should join the McKinley BaO so that they, too, can share the gift of making music and truly experience life as a high school student.

Through their camaraderie and devotion, the McKinley BaO hopes to rekindle its traditions that were waysided in the preceding school year as this school year gradually transitions to normalcy.

*This editorial was revised for conventions on Dec. 8, 2021.