Will The Jazz Band Play On?

Wednesday - November 05, 2008

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Band director for Highlands Intermediate School John Iyoki has been entrusted with the Pearl City Community Jazz Band for about seven years now.

But with recent calls for schools to trim budgets, he fears the band with more than 30 years behind it will become history.

“I’m just really wary of the situation,” said Iyoki. “It’s been a great opportunity for our students here that we have now, and also the kids I had before that have gone to the high school. They still come back and they play with us.”

The band was established in the mid-1970s by former band director Boniface Leong and was passed on to Iyoki.


“Since I inherited the thing, I feel a strong commitment, or desire, to keep it going,” he said.

Highlands Intermediate principal Amy Martinson said she has no control over whether the band can stay or go because the band doesn’t fall under the school’s curriculum, nor does it operate during school hours.

“They may be subject to the payment of utilities, if anything,” she said, noting that the school’s instructional funds will be deducted to pay for utility costs if they surpass the utility budget. “Because of that, I may have to - hereafter, if it’s not a school function - assess the organizations that use the state facility.”

According to Iyoki, the band uses the school’s band room and its electricity to power amplifiers, lights and the air conditioner. Cost to rent the room is $49 an hour plus a 95 cents-an-hour utility charge. Martinson said rental pricing is left up to the state Legislature.

The band meets every Tuesday evening to play various pieces of music and is comprised of about 20 current students, graduates, UH band members, Royal Hawaiian Band members and others.

Though the group rarely performs in public, Iyoki maintains they play for the love of music and to bring together students and professionals to practice a genre of music he believes doesn’t receive enough attention in Hawaii.

“We don’t make any money out of this, and we don’t charge anything,” he said. “I don’t see any other opportunities out there for kids this young to be playing this type of music. It’s a rare experience for these kids to play with some professionals.”

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Most Recent Comment(s):

First of all, if the band has been playing for 30 years, they are already included in the Superintendent’s baseline for your school’s use of electricity.  Secondly, I just checked the DOE website which shows that your school came in more than $18,000.00 below your energy budget!  Thirdly, the Superintendent will not kill a 30 year old community program that benefits public school students.  Lastly, no Principal will hinder a community program that helps his students, especially when Administrators are constantly “beating the bushes” to get any type community involvement in their schools.

LOL at the failure of Mrs. Martinson. She is not a good principle. She is a liar with anger problems. At school she is unfair to Mr. Iyoki giving him a hard time. For example she said to Mr.Iyoki that he will be punished for the air conditioner being too cold. Most people agree that she is a total nut job. As you see with the situation with the jazz band Mrs. Martinson is just out right wrong. I support Mr. Iyoki and he deserves to be treated better by the evil principle Amy Martinson. Her nickname is Ms. Sunshine. And you all would know why.

Must I add Amy Martinson smokes infront of her students. This is a very bad example for the kids. And by the way I am lawliet but changed my screen name. O_o

The music of the Pearl City Community Jazz Band (circa 1975) is now silence.  The Highlands Intermediate Principal has asked for $2700.00 in utility fees to run the band 1 night per week for 2.5 hours from the middle of October to May 2009 (except Holidays).  Several members of the band as well as parents of former Highlands Intermediate Jazz Band members have offered to contribute to the cause, however the band will shut down for the year pending further negotiations, community support and or donations.

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