AZ - The Hopi Junior High School band and the Hopi High School band
performed recently at the Hopi elementary schools. Blair Quamahongnewa,
the new band teacher at Hopi High School, was impressed with the performances.
He said the idea was to recruit sixth and seventh grade students so
when they attend Hopi Junior High they will be interested in band.
"But our kids were also ready to perform and needed a venue," he said.
Quamahongnewa credits Hopi High Principal
Dave Herbert and Hopi Junior High Principal Glenn Gilman with setting
up the performances at the feeder schools. The band and guitarists
performed at Second Mesa Day School, Hopi Day School, Hotevilla-Bacavi
Community School and Polacca Day School. Quamahongnewa said the
performers from Hopi Junior High and Hopi High enjoyed performing
for local schools and want to do it again. Likewise, the student
audiences enjoyed the performances as they cheered, laughed and
applauded the young performers.
"Every school showed their appreciation," he explained. "When we
played the Mexican Hatdance, I was surprised because the audience
started joining in by clapping. We started to use that, and it worked
out really well. I had no idea how this was going to work." Quamahongnewa
said the kids loved being on stage and having people respond to
them. "They loved the attention," he said. "This is good for the
audience and kids. It's a good event and we want to do it again.
When I run into kids and parents in the store they say they enjoyed
it and want to know when we're going to go again. This had a huge
impact on the young kids."
Quamahongnewa said this is one way of
building the program up. "We've had some instruments just sitting
there, but now they're starting to be used," he said.
Quamahongnewa said some high school or
junior high school bands perform at festivals, theme parks and tours.
"We want to get to that level, but we're probably three to four
years away," he said.
Quamahongnewa, who started playing guitar
16 years ago when he was 14, said he prefers for the student musicians
to play solos - rather than in a band - because that is the best
way for them to show their ability. Quamahongnewa studied the guitar
at Northern Arizona University where he earned a Bachelor's in Music
Education. Previously, his father was a drummer in a band and he
became fascinated with the guitar.
While attending Brophy Prep, he taught
himself the guitar through magazines, books and videos. "I like
the guitar because it's portable, anyone can play it, and people
like it," he said. Since August, he has been teaching his 33 guitar
students at Hopi High School the blues, jazz, rock, classical and
flamenco music. He added that there are different styles within
each of these types of music. "There's a lot we didn't get to, so
that's what we'll be working on next semester," he said.
Quamahongnewa said the beginning guitar
class will continue to work on fundamentals while the advanced guitar
class will learn music theory as they have to be more proficient
in order to get the most out of their styles. Aside from teaching
music full-time, Quamahongnewa is a working musician as he performs
in two bands. Nations Ensemble plays jazz, rock and blues. The other
members are Loma Ishii from First Mesa, Jeff Moon from Sedona and
Farron Joshyesva from Second Mesa. Nations Ensemble has played in
the Flagstaff area, the Hopi Reservation, California and New Mexico.
Descendant plays heavy metal and rock.
This band formed for the Hopi to Taos run about four months ago.
They perform mostly on the Hopi Reservation, but they have also
performed in Winslow and Tuba City. Joshyesva and Quamahongnewa
are in this band along with Charlie Lewis and Darion Kootswatewa,
both from Second Mesa; and Wallace Youvella Jr., from First Mesa.