E Mele Kakou in Performance
This report could be subtitled "We are the Proud 'Parents' of...", for certainly that's how those of us who attended September performances of 75 Ka`iulani School 5th graders felt as we watched them sing in Hawaiian, using basic hula hand gestures. It was thrilling. It was awesome, and it was the result of just six weeks of E Mele Kakou instruction and rehearsal.
In 2002, E Mele Kakou (We sing) is in its second year of providing primary school instruction in Hawaiian music and its history. This year, the program has been a Hall of Fame (HMHF) joint music education project with the Hawai`i Youth Opera Chorus (HYOC). Generous funding for this program is from a Cooke Foundation grant and funding by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Education Committee.
Our joint music project began on August 13 with a half-day music festival with eight HYOC staff members and one intern, along with Ka`iulani School teachers. Four workshops were conducted over three morning hours: Hula basics; music of Na Lani Eha and staff and note reading; oli and solfege, the application of sol-fa to the melody and sight reading; He Inoa no Ka`iulani and dalcroze. (a music education concept which focuses and connects the entire body to the music using movement and rhythm instruments.) Regular one hour classroom lessons used the original HMHF curriculum infused with HYOC music fundamentals.
Mondays were full choral rehearsals; Fridays were half and half hula and choral. Nola Nahulu said "the music fundamental curriculum was revised as we went along because of the children's lack of music basics."
And there were homework assignments. Each student had a folder with Hawaiian song lyrics and translations, as well as the songs' melodic lines notated with chords.
The result? Seventy-five Ka`iulani 5th graders gave two public performances in September. Dressed in their new gold E Mele Kakou T-shirts, they performed during the Birthday Celebration for Queen Lili`uokalani at `Iolani Palace on Sept. 7, with the Royal Hawaiian Band at the Palace Bandstand on Sept. 27, and finally, on October 16, at the Ka`iulani School assembly celebration honoring Princess Ka`iulani.
March 7 and 8, 2003 will be the E Mele Kakou Children's Choral Festival at Kawaiaha`o Church. It is sponsored by HYOC, and the public performance is on Saturday, March 8 at 6 p.m
Mark your calendar now! Plan to attend, and bring tissues because these kids may move you to tears, they're that good. We have Charlotte White, Principal of Ka`iulani School to thank for allowing us to pilot E Mele Kakou in her school, and for the commitment of their music teachers to support it.