Choral Program Teaches Students More Than Do-Re-Mi

Alana Folen
Wednesday - January 20, 2010
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Makakilo Elementary principal Sean Tajima (far left) stands with some of the 90 children who joined the school’s popular keiki chorus this school year. The young singers are led by teacher Karen Miyamoto (far right). Photo courtesy of Makakilo Elementary School.

Makakilo Elementary School’s 90-member chorus is bringing its sweet sounds to West Oahu, directed by Karen Miyamoto.

The after-school program began in September 2007 for students in grades K-5 under the leadership of principal Sean Tajima. It is actively supported by the PTSO under president Scott Searcy.

“I’ve always been drawn to music education,” said Tajima. “There’s research that shows that music really works all areas of the brain and helps them in other areas of their academics as well.”

“The choral program also enhances the process of learning as students are engaged in music-making,” Miyamoto added.

“Studies show that music enhances the process of learning and that the systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attention, cognitive, emotional and motor capacities, are shown to be the driving forces behind all other learning.”

A Pearl City resident, Miyamoto said she has always been interested in music - from singing at home as a child, to singing and playing music in school, learning to play the flute in band, taking voice lessons and studying to teach all musical instruments in college.

As choral director, she makes certain that her students are exposed to a variety of music, ranging from classical and pop, to theater, opera and more.

“My students continually amaze me,” she said. “(They have gone) from not being able to sing a first note in tune together at the same time at the first rehearsal to putting on a whole hour performance.

“The students have exceeded my expectations, and I am continually in awe watching them persevere through many long, drawn-out rehearsals, traveling long distances going to concerts and memorizing all the music they have to learn.”

The chorus is currently in the planning stages for its spring concert and continues seeking other community venues in which to perform.

Their next public performance is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 6 in the E Mele Kakou Choral Festival, hosted by Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus at Kawaiahao Church. The event is free and open to everyone. For more information, call 672-1122.

“Our chorus is terrific,” Tajima said.“They’ve already had so many performances - I think the biggest was Ala Moana Center stage.”

“The premise is that most, if not all, students can learn to sing,” Miyamoto added.

“There is also nothing in the world more beautiful than the sound of children’s voices singing.”

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