DRAGON BITES#MADEPOSSIBLEHKIS Band Program Amplifies CollaborationWords by Carolina Wen '23
Photos by Andy Feng '24
HKIS Marketing Interns
NOV 14, 2022 - 2 MIN READAs students, parents, and teachers swarm into a fully packed auditorium on October 26 to attend the first High School Band concert of the school year, it is clear that the band program receives great enthusiasm and attention from the community. As the lights dim, the audience bop their heads to the chirpy melodies and close their eyes to enjoy the tranquil harmonies, we are reminded of the value of performing arts and its ability to move and unite us.High school band director, Mike Ross, conducts the high school band concert, 'Journeys to the Heart'.A mainstay of the HKIS curriculum, the band program gives students the unique opportunity to leave their individual lessons and immerse themselves in a collaborative musical experience. This collaborative learning is what both Mr. Ward and Mr. Pihowhich, the Middle School band directors, believe to be central to what makes the HKIS band program special. As Mr. Ward describes, “One thing that is unique about the HKIS program is that we have collaborative band groups, where we have students in a class of 30 who get a chance to learn music together.” The HKIS band program and the broader performing arts program, allow students to express themselves and shine in ways beyond the classroom and traditional subjects as they make friends, improve musically and achieve something bigger together.
MS Band director Mark Pihowich adds, “...[O]ur program specifically has curricular aspects that a lot of other schools don't have…[T]hey teach private lessons during the day and they have their performing ensembles after school as an extracurricular thing…[W]e focus on all the collaborative skills in the ensemble during the actual periods and we really develop the relationships that the students have, and that really critical social aspect as well.”
Middle school band director, Chris Ward, conducts a group of middle school musicians. (Photos by Studiozag)The longevity and strength of the band program is maintained through the support of HKIS and amplified by the HKIS Annual Fund. From providing some of the instruments to the sheet music that students use to perform, there are many obvious and subtle contributions that are the pillars of the band program. These aspects all culminate in the band concerts which showcase our student’s hard work, learning, and collaboration. In the most recent concert conducted by Mike Ross on October 26, high school band director, he pushed boundaries with experimental songs like ‘Depth’, an electro-acoustic piece that paired modern technology with the live band.
“Though some students were apprehensive about playing such an unconventional and difficult piece, on the night, everyone was moved by the unique atmosphere it created. I’m really grateful to be a part of a program that challenges the students this way.””

Carolina Wen '23, bass clarinetist
The HKIS band program give students the opportunity to collaborate musically by working together to create one unified performance, like they did on the experimental electroacoustic piece, 'Depth'.

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