Two summers ago, just five HBA band students participated in Hawaii Youth Symphony’s Pacific Music Institute.

Last year, that number jumped to 20, and this past summer, that total climbed yet again. Thirty five HBA students spent ten of their final summer days in early July at the University of Hawaii, steeped in master classes, sectionals, concert band practices, conducting lessons, and—at least for oboes—hours making reeds.

“It was wonderful to see so many HBA students join the PMI program,” said Hawaii Youth Symphony executive director Randy Wong. “[It’s a great] opportunity for students of many different schools, backgrounds, and programs to come together to learn, perform and grow. We are thankful to Brad Shimizu and his band students for joining us again this summer.”

For junior Mark Zhong, participating in his first Institute was both enjoyable and surprising. “My PMI experience was really fun,”  he said.  “It was the first time I have ever seen 19 oboes playing at once. Our section really bonded and I made a lot of friends.” For Zhong, the experience motivated him and he now actually likes practicing his instrument.


“I wanted to get better at the trumpet and I’m glad I gave up ten days of summer.”

Freshman Ryder Watanabe


Freshman Ryder Watanabe also enjoyed the camaraderie with his fellow trumpet players. He said, “What I found most valuable during PMI was the time we got to spend together as a section and work on parts that needed help. I wanted to get better at the trumpet and I’m glad I gave up ten days of summer.”

Because this was his second year in PMI, junior Ethan Sanekane formed even deeper friendships with students from other schools. “Since we knew each other from the previous year, ” he said, “we were able to bond better as a section. One day, we even ate at Curry House during our break and went back to UH to play Apples to Apples.” Sanekane added, “I recommend PMI to anyone who wants to improve their playing skills.”

HBA Band director Brad Shimizu, who also served as a PMI clinician, was very proud of his students, both in their willingness to learn and in their musical gain in a short period of time. “It was gratifying to see my students have fun making music, and [to see how visible this was] to many other students outside of HBA,” Shimizu stated. “I was also pleased that they were able to interact well with musicians their age, especially when it came to students who played far above their own level.”

For senior Madison Mizuno, PMI gave her the opportunity to grow in ways far beyond musicianship. Mizuno initially had decided not to do PMI again because she remembered how challenging the music was the previous summer. “I didn’t like the idea of putting myself in that position again, and my fear of failure told me that it was better not to try than to embarrass myself in the attempt,” she explained. Upon reflection, however, and knowing that this would be her last opportunity to improve before the upcoming school year, she faced her fears and decided to participate. “I didn’t want my fear dictating the decisions I make in life, and as scared as I was, it’s a decision I’m glad I made,” she said. “Besides,” Mizuno added matter-of-factly, “I knew that I wouldn’t improve by spending those ten days at my house with my clarinet still in its case.”