You Practice On The Days You Eat

Practice is making perfect for a quartet of talented Oahu teens, who will be featured performers on National Public Radio’s ‘From The Top’ to be heard here Saturday morning

Friday - February 03, 2006
By Chad Pata
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Andrew Ramos gets in some practice at home
Andrew Ramos gets in some practice
at home

National Public Radio is generally the domain of the older generation, where octogenarians like former Secretary of State Warren Christopher and author Kurt Vonnegut pontificate about the world.

But once a week they turn it over to the younger generation on a show called From the Top. It is a classical music show entirely performed by kids from 13 to 18 years of age, and this Saturday four of those budding artists will be kids from right here on Oahu.


The one-hour show airs at 10 a.m. in the Islands and will feature pianist Andrew Ramos (14), violinists Zoë MartinDoike (16) and Laura Keller (17) and double-bassist Kathryn Schulmeister (16).

They represent the brightest of the talent coming out of Hawaii, being led by their youngest, Andrew. First off, upon being selected to perform on the show he was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship of $10,000, to be used for continuing his music education.

Zoe Martin-Doike, Kathryn Schulmeister, Andrew Ramos and Laura Jean Keller at the Hawaii Theatre
Zoe Martin-Doike, Kathryn Schulmeister, Andrew
Ramos and Laura Jean Keller at the Hawaii Theatre

He followed this up by winning the Southwestern regional in Junior Artist Music Teachers National Association competition.

To put this in perspective, this is the first win in 26 years for a student of Ellen Masaki, a legendary teacher who has taught thousands of students in her half-century of service in the Islands.

“It is very difficult to win coming from Hawaii, facing kids from California and Utah,” says Masaki, who gushes about her prized pupil. “He could be the first to win nationally from Hawaii.”


She describes him as a model student, practicing at the studio for three hours a day over the summer. And as such, her acolyte knows what it takes to keep his teacher happy.

“She is really strict, but pretty much if you follow what she says you are all right,” says

Andrew, who heads to Texas in March for the Nationals.

When she’s not playing violin, Zoe Martin-Doike likes to surf
When she’s not playing violin, Zoe
Martin-Doike likes to surf

He started playing at age 8, when his father, Alex, bought a piano for the family. Little did his father know at the time that he had sired a couple of prodigies.

“My dad got the piano, and I thought it might be fun so I started playing,” says Andrew, whose younger brother Tyler (10) is a rising star as well.

While Masaki maintains that Andrew could make a career out of being a concert pianist, he has his sights on using his talented hands to heal as a physician rather than entertain.

Exactly the opposite is true with Zoë, who believes music could be her life, but her parents view it differently.

“I dream of going to a conservatory, but my parents would rather I go to a university,” says Zoë, who performed a solo on the broadcast taped in Maui. “I really have considered music as a career, but my mom is discouraging me, as she knows the life.”

Her dissuading mother is none other than Joan Doike, the conductor for the Hawaii Youth Symphony. But don’t pile on her too hard. She knows the struggles of being a starving artist firsthand and just wants a easier life for her daughter.

Zoë agrees, and because of a growing love of star-gazing is looking into astronomy for her future.

Back here on earth, the double bassist Kathryn is a bit more of a pragmatist, as you’ll find in her choice of instrument.

“When I started playing in the third grade I wanted to play the flute,” says Kathryn, who also plays in a jazz quartet named Dead Man Blues. “But every girl wanted to play the flute, so I played the bass because I wanted to be different.”

Sticking out from the crowd has served her well as she also was selected to perform a solo in Maui. She described the solo as being both exciting and nerve-wracking as she is used to the anonymity that comes with being part of a 54-mem-

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