Not a moment was wasted as music teacher Karen Drozd led third-graders through rehearsal for "Voyages to Oceania," a presentation of art, music and dance that reflected their immersive study of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
"OK, everybody, we have to work out the stick dance," Drozd told a group of students during a music class in April. First she demonstrated the Chuukese tokia, then the students carefully mimicked her actions, but without the long, smooth sticks they would use during the actual dance. Satisfied that they had mastered the intricate movements, she said, "OK, get a partner and grab a stick. We're going through all the way from the beginning."
The third-graders quickly took their places, eager to perfect one of the songs and dances they would be performing for their parents later that month. The curriculum developed by Drozd integrates the history, culture, language, art, music and dance of islands throughout the Pacific, with each third-grade class focusing on Melanesia, Polynesia or Micronesia.
"In these societies, the language, values and cultural practices are handed down through music, so we're learning about all of that as we learn the songs and dances," said Drozd, an ethnomusicologist who holds a doctorate in music education and does field work each summer in places such as Palau, Chuuk, Guam and New Caledonia. "And of course music education is essentially multidisciplinary. Music is all about patterns -- learning about them, recognizing them and being able to predict them -- and that's also very important in math and science."
Drozd inspires the students with her expertise and enthusiasm, and over the course of the school year they learned songs and dances from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tokelau, Niue, Palau, Guam, Yap and Chuuk, incorporating Orff percussion, 'ukulele, bamboo stamping tubes and other instruments into their music lessons. In art class, with teacher Erin Oda '89 Osman, the third-graders crafted colorful masks in the style of Melanesian tribes, deepening their understanding of dance as a visual artform, and decorated stage backdrops with kapa designs.
By the time parents gathered in Twigg-Smith Pavilion for performances on April 12 and 13, 2012 (the six third-grade classes split were split into two groups), the students were ready to take the audience on a cross-cultural musical journey.
Sweet voices rang out in the harmonic echo song "Tongo," the upbeat "Siasi" expressed the joy and happiness of island living, and butterfly dancers graced the stage during the lyrical "Abebe" (all from Papua New Guinea). "Angi Mai" (Tonga) expressed appreciation for the natural world, while "Laumei Faiaga" (Samoa) reinforced the proverb "if you don't work, you don't eat." "Alibasosoi," from Palau, described fishing in the open ocean, and it's easy to see why the body percussion dance "Daramete" (Yap) is used to improve motor skills and coordination. The cultural program concluded with the Chuukese stick dance, and the children's faces were joyous as they lined up, faced their partners, and filled the auditorium with the rhythmic tapping of the piece that they had practiced so well.
Off stage, Drozd's face was joyous too. She praised all the students for their energy, dedication and love of learning. "Music education is my passion, and I'm so grateful to have students that share it!"
Green, and Loving It
May 15, 2012
The Magic of Holoku and May Day
May 14, 2012
Girls Varsity Tennis Coach Steps Down
May 14, 2012
Senior Honored As Gates Millennium Scholar
May 10, 2012
An Inspiring Adventure
May 10, 2012
Spring Sports States Wrap-up - Week 1
May 7, 2012
|Punahou School 1601 Punahou Street, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96822 · (808) 944-5711|