Wahiawa Band Helps Community Rekindle Its Love Of Music

Alan Kinoshita

Alan Kinoshita's passion for music is clear at the community band's weekly practice. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo, ltabudlo@midweek.com.

Sometimes, you just gotta play.

That’s how it was when Fern Nishigata picked up her flute after four decades and trotted over to Leilehua High School to join the Wahiawa Community Band (WCB).

“It was by the urging of my son Drew that I decided to try to play again after nearly 40 years not touching my instrument,” explained Nishigata, now both a band parent and a musician once again. Her son plays baritone for the Mules in the official teen version of the band.

“We just have a blast coming to practice every week,” she added. “It doesn’t matter that my playing sucks; I do my best to keep up and have fun anyway.”

Leilehua band director Alan Kinoshita started the WCB in January at the urging of his wife. “She missed playing her oboe,” he said, “and so did many other community members.” The group has since grown to about 30 enthusiasts of all ages, including a friend of Nishigata’s whom she recruited for the Wednesday night sessions in the school band room.

“There’s no true director,” said Kinoshita, who pretty much coordinates the whole endeavor. “We find different people in the band to conduct and rehearse the band.” They plan to continue the weekly music sessions year-round, he noted, and may eventually give informal performances. “It depends on what the group wants to do.” It helps a great deal, he added, that WCB has the full backing of the school administration.

Now in his seventh year at Leilehua – a position he feels fortunate to get after graduating in 2005 from UH Manoa – Kinoshita is up to his director’s baton in band life. As a student, he played under the renowned Michael Nakasone at Pearl City High School, was band president there and marched with the Charger band in the Pasadena Rose Parade. His wife is past president of the Leilehua band, his mother-in-law an active parent booster, and his brother-in-law a senior trumpet player in Kinoshita’s first year at the Wahiawa school.

“His energy and passion for music is just so infectious,” said Nishigata. “I can see why the band program has flourished in the years he has been teaching. And I’d forgotten how much fun it is to make music and meet new people who feel the same way.”

Kinoshita thinks it’s a shame that so many people put away their instruments after high school or college and never make music again. The WCB is out to remedy that, and it welcomes new members.

Practice is from 6:30 to 8:30 every Wednesday night in the school band room. To join the fun, stop by or call 622-5672 to learn more. And it’s BYOI (bring your own instrument).