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Summer School Offers Kanikapila by Hawaiian Recording Artist
Anela Akana

This semester, St. Andrew’s Schools welcomed Keao Costa as the music teacher for the Lower School. Costa will also be teaching “Art & Kanikapila: ʻUkulele and Song” as part of the wide variety of Summer School classes being offered. In this class, students will learn ʻukulele chords and skills and the entire class will learn a favorite song.

Costa has an extensive professional career in the Hawaiian music industry as a recording artist/musician in the music group, Nā Palapalai. He is well-known in Hawaiʻi for his talent as a bass player, lead vocalist, and background vocalist, and received several Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards as a member of the group and was nominated for Best New Artist. In addition to performing locally and internationally, Costa is an experienced music director, music teacher, and ukulele teacher.

This is Keao Costa.


How did you get into music?

I got into music because it seemed so natural. I was raised hānai style by my grand-aunt who I affectionately call Mama. She would always have the radio on, playing Hawaiian music each morning before taking me to school. If you walked into our house and didn’t hear music either being played on the radio or played by my family, you would think that you were in the wrong house. I think for me in my life, music chose me.

What are your goals for the students in your summer classes?

I am excited about this year’s summer school classes. My goal for this year is to strengthen the student’s level of performance. They will be able to learn how to play new songs chosen by their classmates as well as sharing a song of his/her choice. They will find challenges in new ways of strumming, chord voicing, chord progression, and vocal flourishing. And most of all, the goal is to instill the feeling of the kanikapila style – learning to play together, without much rehearsing, just using your ear to keep up with the pace of each other’s skill levels. Therefore, advancing your skill up to the person beside you.

What are your goals for the students in your summer classes?

I never saw myself as being a teacher. But when Covid began to change the dynamics of life around the world, I agreed to teach ukulele classes on Zoom for Na Pua Noʻeau and for the Key Project. That is when I found that teaching children how to play the ukulele brought me joy. One of my favorite things about teaching ʻukulele is that you get to see the progression of students instantly through their performance. If they take it seriously and spend the proper time practicing, they can also improve upon their creative abilities. That’s when things get really interesting. I love to see that happen. 

Who or what inspires you?

My constant inspiration is the memories of my childhood. On the weekends, my uncles would often come to our house with their instruments for a backyard jam, and my hānai mama would always be the one to sing. I have many fond memories of sneaking out of bed after the other kids went to bed to sit on her lap and listen to her serenade the night away. She has a very beautiful voice.  

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I often try to be a part of the audience. As much as I love to perform, I love to listen to a musical performance. Although gathering is impossible during Covid, just like most people, I have resorted to watching performance streams on live social media. It’s not as invigorating and exciting, but it satisfies a yearning. I also like to just sit quietly and do a puzzle while listening to the sound of life outside my window.

 
Art & Kanikapila is open to grades 4–8 and is available in both Summer School Sessions 1 & 2. Learn more and register today.

 

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