By MerriLyn Smithson.
This year I had the incredible opportunity to go to Hawaii on a music tour with the Jazz Band. For me, I feel it was really unique. In 2015 I was able to go to Hawaii on tour with the Heritage music department. So, I went to Hawaii my first year at Heritage, in 8th grade, and this year as a senior. How cool is that!?
Because I was able to attend both tours, I was also able to compare them. Both trips had similar itineraries, but there were also many differences.
In 2015, Mr. John Taylor was our band teacher. This year our instructor is Mr. Blau. Both years we worked hard to have our music prepared for our adventure. In 2015, we focused on Jazz themed music; this year we played music such as Hawaii 5-0 and Pure Imagination from the movie Willy Wonka.
During both tours, we were able to perform on the Island of Oahu. We got to go visit the Pearl Harbor at USS Arizona Memorial and perform nearby at the USS Missouri. On March 12th, 2019, the music groups all performed next to the massive ship. In order to prepare, the music and arts groups practiced together before school. The order was similar to this: choir, orchestra, ballroom dance, dance company, and band. There were also songs at the end that some groups collaborated on. There were many bystanders who stopped and watched our performance. We also performed similarly back in my 8th-grade year. The difference was that there were fewer arts groups attending the tour. There was only orchestra and Jazz band, so the performance at the USS Missouri was less hectic and each group was able to play more songs.
We were also able to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is an incredible place that I highly recommend visiting.We spent most of the day there, and many groups did a short performance. But the groups with instruments were unable to perform because we could not find transport for the rental instruments to be brought to the PCC, and if they were brought we would have to haul them around all day. In that performance was the choirs and dance groups. They performed in front of the art gallery, and it was very beautiful. Although we didn’t have our instrument to play with, the band also did a short number. We did a silly music number using straws and instruments purchased from tourist shops such as little drums. It was quite funny and was followed by many smiles and laughs. In 2015, the Jazz band was able to perform at the Polynesian Cultural Center; we were small enough that we performed in the area by the entrance where many trinket shops were. It was really cool because it felt like we were performing at a real gig. Many tourists took pictures and stopped and listened to our performance.
Overall I really enjoyed the Hawaii tours I was able to participate in. It was interesting to see the difference in each. However, I remember them having many similarities, such as, having fun and hanging out on the beach, eating delicious food, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, and having dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Because I was given the incredible opportunity to go to Hawaii twice throughout my Heritage High School Jazz Band career, it is now one of my favorite places.