James K. Scott ’70

President’s Desk: A Legacy of Music

This year, Punahou celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Music School. Our passion for music extends well back into our 178-year history. Since the School’s beginnings, music has flowed throughout the campus and has been integrated into our curriculum, culture and traditions. 

The Punahou Music Department provides students in kindergarten through grade 12 abundant curriculum options, co-curricular programs, ensembles and performance opportunities. The Music School offers private and group music instruction to both Punahou students and students from the community. Approximately 25 percent of those taking lessons are not Punahou students, which is aligned with our aspiration to become a private school with a larger public purpose. We believe that the comprehensive breadth and depth of music offerings at Punahou are comparable to a music conservatory, rivaled only by schools that specialize in the arts.

Some of our alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in music, whether it is performing, composing, teaching or working in the music field in some other capacity. Many Punahou alumni who have not pursued careers in music still find ways to sing, play and create music.

There is much to celebrate as we reflect on Punahou’s musical legacy. Our deep musical roots are acknowledged in this issue of the Bulletin. Yet we know that the arts are just one dimension of a Punahou education.  We want our students to have rich choices and experiences. We want them to be stretched and challenged academically. We want them to value physical education and the School’s extraordinary opportunities in athletics. We want them to develop strong moral and spiritual values, and to embrace a sense of personal and social responsibility. But we also want to foster creativity within our students – and a deep appreciation for the arts.  We believe that music aligns with and enhances these aims as we develop students’ promise as individuals and as community members.

More than a third of our 34 National Merit Semifinalists this year currently participate in music at Punahou. These seniors, whose test scores placed them among the top half of 1 percent of high school seniors nationwide, sing in the choir, play in one of our ensembles or study music in some capacity. The May Day program and the annual Holokū pageant continue to be a vibrant part of our school culture. Ninety percent of the senior class sing together in their Variety Show. All of our graduating seniors sing and play multiple songs at Commencement.

Punahou is blessed to have a music faculty that is talented, dedicated, innovative and inspiring. Through their support and encouragement of students, we know that music expands mindsets, instills discipline, enhances an understanding of other cultures, teaches collaboration and can foster joy. Punahou students have proudly performed on campus, around the country and throughout the world at a high level of excellence.    

Music has been a vital and joyful part of the student experience at Punahou. Our hope for our graduates is that these rich experiences will cultivate a deep and active appreciation of music for a lifetime.

Music coverage – Spring 2019
A Celebration of Music
Timeline of music at Punahou
Featured musicians – Punahou Bulletin cover
Punahou Sessions

Alumni Profiles – Spring 2019
Shawn Conley ’01
Sarah Hicks ’89
Jon Magnussen ’86
Sarah Tochiki ’03

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