Let music open your mind

  • John Steinhorst

As a journalist and music aficionado, I’ve been fortunate to have had unique opportunities to interview many professional musicians and local performers, from international rock-and-roll Hall of Famers to talented middle school band directors.

When I’ve questioned successful artists for the best advice they could offer aspiring musicians, most said to practice, practice, practice and follow your heart. Another echoing response was to listen intently to all types and genres of music.

The island of Kauai is blessed with an abundance of diverse cultures, which all contribute to the variety of music available here, from native oli chants and porch-side kanikapila to Taiko drumming and impromptu jazz. Enjoying the diversity of world music promotes a feeling of connection with all of the planet’s expressive sounds united as a single symphonic entity.

One such expression of sound taking place today celebrates tunes from the unique musical period of the 1950s.

The Sunday event called “Crooners &Divas of the ’50s” takes place at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church at 4 p.m. and costs $40. Listeners can enjoy performances of songs by Pat Boone, Peggy Lee, Connie Francis and more, directed by Dolly Kanekuni.

Another upcoming cultural performance, this one sharing the soothing sounds of Hawaiian ki ho’alu, will be the Legends of Slack Key Guitar and Ukulele Concert on Tuesday at Princeville Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m. Come listen to live performances and storytelling by Sandy and Doug McMaster to be eligible for free gift drawings. The cost is $10 to $25, while proceeds support Princeville at Hanalei Community Association.

Experiencing music styles from different places and time periods may just broaden your perspective and provide a deeper appreciation for Kauai’s special offerings, from traditional mele to electronic mixes.

Before learning to play music by practicing a range of string and percussion instruments, I even took a whirl as a music deejay, spinning vinyl records at parties and clubs. The beat matching and scratch sampling opened up my mind to creating music instead of just listening to it.

Nearly 30 years later, I’m still practicing and practicing on instruments like Hawaiian ukulele, Indian sitar and Brazilian cuica.

I believe experiencing the artistic expressions of varying cultures and their unique instrumentation can expand musical horizons to open an acoustic awareness of the sound patterns that enter our ears and our hearts every day.

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John Steinhorst, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at (808) 652-5024 or jsteinhorst@thegardenisland.com

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