Music rekindles tradition

An Vo, guest writer

Music rekindles tradition

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. This school year, however, MHS’s Band and Orchestra 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 substantial support towards McKinley’s football team by playing upbeat tunes and spectating their games. In addition, the band plays music during school assemblies to support the school and its community.

Playing pep band tunes and cheering with my peers to raise the morale of the McKinley football players as they played their game highlighted my freshman year. Best of all, the McKinley Band could spectate for free.

Imbued with long-standing traditions and values that derive from alumni, the McKinley BaO strives to uphold and preserve its wisdom and pass them on to future generations.

What makes the music program phenomenal is that 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, the need to undergo remote learning last school year, specifically nearly half of the second preceding school year, as a precautionary measure in regards to the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on the music program, extinguishing several traditions that made the McKinley BaO program unique and special.

Personally, 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 is 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.

Videos from previous performances by the McKinley BaO are posted on a YouTube channel, McKinley Band & Orchestra, owned by former directors Thomas and Donna Hesch.

“As you can tell from each of the videos, your (BaO) performances were very good, and were a result of all the hard work and unified effort each of you contributed to make each concert a success,” former director Donna Hesch posted on Google Classroom, announcing her retirement. “You, your friends, relatives, and loved ones can look back on them now and in the future with pride, and we will also.”

The McKinley BaO performed their first Halloween Concert on Oct. 30, meaning that they have given light to a new tradition. In preparation for their concert, they partook in weekly rehearsals and dedicated their free time to master their repertoire. 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 how 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, including their Winter Concert on Dec. 11. If all goes well, it might be possible for the McKinley Band to play music at future football games. This year, however, the band will only be playing at one home football game on Nov. 27.

Despite the challenges of remote learning, the McKinley BaO persevered and stood intact with their compassion for making music. Moreover, the music program is remarkably supportive of MHS and has a passion for giving back to the community.

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 had been forgotten in the preceding school year as this school year gradually transitions to normalcy.