This week at IC, our student chapter and the Whalen School of Music hosted a Hawaiian music series. The IC Choir has been working with Justin Kaupu, an IC conducting graduate student from Hawaii, toward a Hawaiian music recital this Saturday. Several musicians made the long trek from Hawaii (nine hours by plane!) to share their music and expertise with us in two workshops. In the first workshop, the kumu hula Victoria Holt-Takamine hosted a viewing of the film "Hawaiian Rainbow" and provided expert commentary on the roots of Hawaiian music.
I attended the second workshop in which Ms. Holt-Takamine, Chadwick Pang, and Justin Kaupu discussed Hawaiian music in education. We began by singing a traditional hula piece, performed with call-and-response. We were accompanied by the ipu hula, a drum made of two gourds that is held at the neck and played by tapping the side of the drum or striking the drum on a floor mat. Occasionally Justin would chime in with the ukulele. Each dance move we learned had a different name; for example, one move involved walking sideways and was called 'travel' in Hawaiian. The dance style was very fluid. I noticed that the hand position, especially which way the palm faces, is very important in this style.
Next, we learned a simple tune appropriate for elementary grades that used beautiful' shells as props. We clicked the shells together and sang about the ocean and falling asleep. The presenters explained that this song would be well suited for younger children because they will love playing with the shells and because the melody is repetitive and easy to follow.
We learned one final piece together that told a story. In the piece, we sang and made hand motions that explained the following story about two siblings and an eel:
One day, a brother and sister were walking along the seashore when suddenly an eel (Puhi) came and stole the sister and hid her in a cave. The brother ran to the village to ask for help to rescue his sister. But when he got there, everyone was out in the fields and the village was empty. He went to the sea and asked the sea creatures for help. He asked a variety of seashells and sea creatures, but all of them told him that they were too small and scared to fight the eel. When the brother asks the tiniest seashells, they finally say yes because they are not afraid of the eel. They will cover his eyes and the brother can save his sister.
I loved working with Ms. Holt-Takamine and her colleagues in this workshop. I have never been exposed to Hawaiian music before, besides performing a Hawaiian choral work that involved a steel drum, and I am glad that I have learned about a new musical culture. Their insight into education and traditional Hawaiian music has greatly inspired me, and I hope to use some of what I learned in my future teaching.
-Laura White, '17
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