Guitar class broadens music program


Photo by Faith Owan

Kumu Kalei Aarona-Lorenzo speaks in front of her guitar class, the first to be offered at Kamehameha Maui and beginning in 2015. The class is meant to round out the KSM music program.

Kamehameha Schools Maui now offers a beginner’s guitar class as an elective for all grade levels under the direction of Kumu Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo.

“All the kids in there I can say are very passionate about learning guitar,” Kumu Kalei said. “They’re playing already, and it’s only been a week and a half.”

The idea for the class began with Ms. Jay-R Kaawa, who put forth the idea “in an effort to perpetuate Hawaiian language, culture and music.” She asked Kumu Kalei if she would be able to teach guitar, and the course began from there.

Kumu Kalei believes that another reason for having the course offered is to have a more complete music program at Kamehameha Maui.

“[Guitar] is more acceptable in the college realm,” she said. “ʻUkulele, I guess it’s worldwide now…but I don’t think it carries as much weight as, say, guitar.”

The class is working towards its final exam, a performance in the Winter Concert in December. The ultimate goal is for students to be able to strum the guitar and sing at the same time, which the students will eventually be tested on as the course progresses.

“But that’s what kids want to do, right?” Kumu Kalei said. “That’s why you would take guitar; it’s because you want to be able to play and sing the songs.”

Students like senior Preston Watanabe think that because Kumu Kalei’s “background is so colorful in musical instruments” she is able to give students the help they need.

“Her class is a great place to start if you want to begin or at least find out if you want to play the guitar,” Watanabe said.

Watanabe took the guitar class because he has a guitar at his house, but didn’t know how to play it–until now. He hopes that once he’s finished with the class, he’ll be able to comfortably play his instrument at home and continue to learn from there.

“I’ve been enjoying [guitar class] mostly because of the social aspect of playing [guitar] with people you don’t really know because it gives you something to bond over,” he said.

Senior Richard “Ikaika” Renaud joined the class to learn the guitar for Kamehameha Maui’s Hawaiian Ensemble.

“By the end of this class, I want to be able to just listen to songs and pick up the chords,” he said.

Kumu Kalei hopes that the guitar class can keep progressing as well as it has in the less than two weeks it has been in session.

“If it continues to go this way, then I would see great things with Guitar [class],” she said. “It remains to be seen. We’ll see what can be produced at the concert.”