Not Your Typical Instrument
By Kalei “Pumpkin” Moss
The typical instrument played on Molokai may be something like a guitar or ukulele, but students across the island are also playing something a little more classical – violin. For the past year, Bob Underwood, a teacher at Kaunakakai Elementary School, has been able to teach and share his love of music through the 21st Century grant program. Students at Kualapu`u Elementary are learning the fine art of playing violin and are doing very well at it.
The class is made up of students of varying ages beginning at first grade, and it is a combination of beginner and intermediate skill levels. Community members are welcome to join the class and learn how to play; there are no age or skill restrictions. Playing violin not only teaches students how to play a musical instrument, it also helps reinforce other educational skills such as literacy, math, and physics. Students learn how to read sheet music and notes which involves tracking and using fractions. Playing the violin also gives students another type of intellectual activity that they can participate in, and helps keep them occupied and hopefully out of trouble. Mason Bukowski, a fifth grade student at Kualpau`u Elementary, said that the violin is “fun to play.” Mason has attended the Kualapu`u Elementary violin class since it first began in January 2011.
Like many programs that the 21st Century grant funds, the violin class at Kualapu`u Elementary offers something that many young people on Molokai may never have the opportunity to experience otherwise. The 21st Century grant program, through federal funds, has provided students with a qualified teacher and the musical instruments to practice on. Mr. Underwood has been playing musical instruments since he was in high school and has taught music for over 10 years. He attributes the success of the violin class to the generosity of the 21st Century grant and especially to Janice Espiritu for approving the purchase of more violins, so that every student has his or her own to play.
The Kualapu`u Elementary 21st Century grant violin class is held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:50 to 3:40 p.m., and is open to anyone to attend. Mr. Underwood also teaches violin at Kaunakakai Elementary School, through the 21st Century grant, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 3:30 for beginners and 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. for intermediate players. If you or your children are interested in participating in any of the violin classes held at Kualapu`u Elementary or Kaunakakai Elementary, you may contact Joshua Adachi at 553-1730. It is a great opportunity to expose our children to something that otherwise they may only see on TV.