Japanese students, Pacific Fleet Band communicate through music

By JO2 Jessica B. Davis
U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

March 15, 2005

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Talking about music, laughing, and playing air hockey was the scene after a March 11friendship visit made by Kansai Student Band Federation to the Pacific Fleet Band rehearsal hall.

The student band and Pacific Fleet's Parade Band also performed as two units in the annual Honolulu Festival Grand Parade March 13. Before their parade performances the two bands got together to share culture, music and fun.

After introductions through an interpreter, Kiyomo Hato, the Pacific Fleet Big Band performed for the students, the 22 Japanese musicians listened intently, as the band gave a high-energy, enthusiastic performance of "Old Man River," "Almost Like Being in Love," and "The Way You Look Tonight."

The Pacific Fleet band received a standing ovation by the students and teachers for their performance. After the band played, the Japanese students got out their instruments and helped move chairs so they could all play together.

"This visit is to encourage (the students) in their future and to help them understand music," said Takeo Terada, Kansai Student Band Federation's chief director, through Hato. "I believe this experience will teach them the international spirit of music."

"When you let the musicians get together, they find a way to communicate," said Pacific Fleet Band Director Lt. Ken Collins. "I bet at the end it will be hard to separate them. There is a special bond between musicians."

As the musicians shared music sheets and instrument techniques, and performed "Zippity-Do-Da" and "YMCA."

After those songs, Terada showed Collins a sheet of music and started to hum a tune. Terada and Collins shook their heads in agreement. A quick shift of the music sheets had "Anchors Aweigh" flowing boldly throughout the rehearsal room.

After a group photo, and the official part of the visit was over, all the musicians really opened up to each other. There was no apparent language barrier, as the students asked for autographs, and enjoyed pizza and root beer.

"This is good relations for all," said Musician 3rd Class Devin Stephenson. "We don't understand much about each other's language and culture, but we still manage to communicate and get along."