National Guard, local students perform in fellowship concert

| June 24, 2016 | 0 Comments
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Scott Okomura of the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 111th Army Band mentors Brendan Hiyane during a practice session at the Pearl City Cultural Center in Pearl City, Hawaii June 12, 2016. The concert was the culmination of a weekend-long community outreach mission conducted by the 111th Army Band.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Scott Okomura of the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 111th Army Band mentors Brendan Hiyane during a practice session at the Pearl City Cultural Center in Pearl City, Hawaii June 12, 2016. The concert was the culmination of a weekend-long community outreach mission conducted by the 111th Army Band.

Story and photos by
Spc. Paul Berzinas
Hawaii Army National Guard

Staff Sgt. Nathan Lee performs alongside Switcelle Rubonal at the Pearl City Cultural Center in Pearl City, June 12. This is the first year the 111th Army Band has held such an event.

Staff Sgt. Nathan Lee performs alongside Switcelle Rubonal at the Pearl City Cultural Center in Pearl City, June 12. This is the first year the 111th Army Band has held such an event.

PEARL CITY — Hawaii Army National Guard Soldiers and local students joined together to perform at a music fellowship concert at the Pearl City Cultural Center, June 12.

The event was the result of an outreach effort made by the 111th Army Band. The concert, performed in front of family and friends, was the culmination of a weekend-long outreach mission conducted by the band in order to mentor local students.

“This mission is about community outreach,” said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Okubo, a team leader in the 111th Army Band. “We’re reaching out to the high school and college students and giving them the opportunity to be a professional musician for a weekend.”

According to Okubo, professional musicians generally have less time to prepare for a concert than students in band classes do.

This is a valuable experience for any student pursuing music as a career, Okubo said.

“In general, we’re teaching them how to be professional musicians and put together a concert and adjust to changing conditions,” Okubo said. “That’s something that most of them aren’t used to.”

The students are also given the chance to perform in smaller musical ensembles consisting of only a handful of musicians, the team leader said. Performing in these small teams allows the students to gain experience as soloists.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Scott Okomura of the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 111th Army Band mentors Brendan Hiyane during a practice session at the Pearl City Cultural Center in Pearl City, Hawaii June 12, 2016. The concert was the culmination of a weekend-long community outreach mission conducted by the 111th Army Band.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Scott Okomura of the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 111th Army Band mentors Brendan Hiyane during a practice session at the Pearl City Cultural Center in Pearl City, Hawaii June 12, 2016. The concert was the culmination of a weekend-long community outreach mission conducted by the 111th Army Band.

“Rather than being hidden in a band of 70 people or so, they’re one of five voices,” Okubo said. “So it really gives them a chance to be heard.”

The experience of working with the band was not what Wryen Waniya, a trumpet player and a junior at Punahou School, expected it to be.

“The Soldiers are so welcoming,” said Wryen. “You hear about the military and you expect them to be really strict, but the Soldiers here are really relaxed.”

While the band spent much of the weekend mentoring the students, the band members also learned new things from working with the students, Okubo said.

“I’m learning from a clarinet player who is a college graduate in music,” he said. “She’s a better player than I am, so I’m learning from her, while at the same time we’re teaching the younger kids about music techniques.”

According to Okubo, this is the first year the 111th Army Band has held this event.

“Now that we’ve done the first event, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do it annually,” he said.

Wryen is looking forward to playing in the next fellowship concert.

“It was such a good experience working with the Soldiers, they perform at a professional level, so we really learned a lot,” Wryen said. “If this event happened again next year I’d be willing to come.”

The HIANG 111th Army Band performs in a music fellowship concert with Pearl City students. The concert was the culmination of an outreach effort made by the Soldiers of the 111th Army Band in an exchange of knowledge between students and National Guard musicians.

The HIANG 111th Army Band performs in a music fellowship concert with Pearl City students. The concert was the culmination of an outreach effort made by the Soldiers of the 111th Army Band in an exchange of knowledge between students and National Guard musicians.

Category: Community, DVIDS

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