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Ka Leo O Kalani

The student news site of Kalani High School

Ka Leo O Kalani

Kalani Welcomes New Music Teacher Mr. Nakamura

Now teaching Orchestra, Guitar, Ukulele, and Poly Dance, Mr. Parker Nakamura is Kalani’s official music teacher. Nakamura’s actually an alumni of the school and shares that it’s good to “be back home.”

“It’s always been my dream job to come back to the school that I was fortunate enough to learn from and grew up in,” Nakamura says. 

Students Hailee Choi (11) explain how Nakamura was an “intimidating guy” at first glance with his tattoos and a confident stance. However, once she got to know him and participated in his class, she realized that in reality he’s completely the opposite. 

“He’s obviously very scary at first, but once you get to talk to him, he’s actually really chill,” Choi says, “Though he can have his strict moments, he’s more lenient and understanding.”

Mr. Nakamura with his Ukulele. Photo and caption by Olivia Kulago.

Latsaha Hui (11) and Choi both share how it’s nice to finally have a set teacher for the class after going through four teachers in the past two years. They expressed that knowing he’s going to stay in the position got their hopes up and Hui shared that “ it motivated me”. 

“I was scared of him at first, but after him saying what he wanted to do for the class, I felt a little happier because recently we’ve had teachers coming in, coming out after Mr. Akimoto passed away,” Hui explains. “So, it was pretty rough, but then after he told us he wanted to stay, I was really happy I was like ‘oh yay’.”

The constant flow of teachers was difficult  for both sides. Nakamura explained that the program was almost in shambles and lots of changes had to be made to improve the mess it’d been left in. He was the fourth teacher in 2 years and had to make a lot of changes to the program.

“I’m very passionate about my alma mater and the program that I grew up on, so that was kind of my driving force with teaching, and bringing the program back was just doing it for the school that I went through,” Nakamura says.

Nakamura was inspired to get into music after growing up around it from a very young age. 

“My uncle was in the Royal Hawaiian Band so I always grew up around Hawaiian music and basically from middle school I wanted to be a musician somewhere, so I went to school to pursue a trumpet performance degree,” Nakamura says.

Hui explains that her favorite part of her orchestra class is Mr. Nakamura himself. 

“He makes orchestra sound fun because my freshmen year orchestra was boring,” Hui says. “You just sat there and played and left, but when he came it was more than that, it was just like you had a connection with him and like a connection with other people too.”

Nakamura added that he tries to keep the class fun and prioritizes teaching life skills through music rather than being a harsh music teacher. 

“I understand that in a performing setting for music a lot of them like 99% of them are not gonna want to major in music, so the main focus is not to get them into the professional music world,” Nakamura says. “It’s just to teach them life skills through music and I think I’ve made that very clear to my classes.”

He really stresses that his philosophy of teaching is that through school and different classes you gain lots of new experiences and learn vital life skills that benefit you “in the workforce, for college and beyond.”

“I might be a music teacher but my main philosophy is to teach you life skills through music not to teach you everything about music, but to know that there’s skills that come out of music,” Nakamura says. “Like how to socialize with people, how to communicate responsibly, how to show up on time, so that what I try to instill in my lessons just like the life lessons part, of course I’m teaching music but trying to connect that with life to me is my philosophy of teaching.” 

Nakamura also says, “my whole passion about teaching is sharing and lending a helping hand to your students,” and that he believes that he will stay a teacher for a long time; he sees it as his responsibility. 

 “That thing that keeps bringing me back, the generation of students now are the future of our society and teachers hold a huge responsibility in making sure that our society is running smoothly,” Nakamura says. “So I feel like I have that weight to stay in it. I think education is full circle really, what we give to students they are able to offer us back to the next generation and it’s kind of this recurring cycle of life.”

Teaching has become an important part of his life and something that’s changed him forever.

“I think staying connected with teaching is a very big part of me, it’s just part of life really, and there is a lot of life skills that come out of teaching that I think students need to learn and I think it’s important,” Nakamura says.

Nakamura is determined to grow the program and make it recognized in both the state and nation. . He’s looking forward to “seeing this program flourish.”

 The students are also looking forward to it, they couldn’t have been happier with their new teacher.

“He’s a great conductor,” Choi says. “He’s probably one of the best teachers I’ve had.”

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About the Contributor
Olivia Kulaga, Reporter
Olivia Kulaga is a junior and is a very bright and cheerful person with awesome humor and a love of travel to match her adventurous spirit.

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