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'Self Portrait' Captures Kamehameha Students' Senior Year in a Pandemic

"Self Portrait" album cover
Music Tech
Kamehameha Schools
"Self Portrait" album cover

As the 2021-22 school year swings into the fall session, real life is setting in for the class of 2021. High school seniors who graduated this year are starting their lives in a changed world. Attitudes, expectations and vocations themselves are different after the pandemic.

One group of young people recorded their senior year impressions.

Kai Duhaylonsod is media coordinator for a digital album project called "Self Portrait." Seven students in the Music and Technology class at Kamehameha School wrote, played and produced their own songs under local music veteran Bailey Matsuda.

It's both a product and a record of the pandemic.

Jacob Chinn
Kamehameha Schools
Left to right: bottom: Angela Chock, Kai Duhaylonsod, Malie Lyman; Top: Noe Hussey, Jacob Evans, Connor Sala, Kylie Kwak; Missing: Maika Piena

"I remember the first time we went into the lab," says Duhaylonsod, "The vibe totally changed and everyone's attitude too. Music is hard to do through a screen, but once you're there and you can feel what everyone else is feeling..."

"It's funny when you hear a musician speak. 'Cause there's just a language." For example, what would you talk about?

"Even with like, Bailey, we were looking for a specific tone on the guitar, he would tell me, "You need that glassy tone."

"If I were to tell that to my parents," says Duhaylonsod, "They'd be like, What?"

"But for me," continues Duhaylonsod, "The biggest thing I gained was the ability to collaborate, the ability to communicate and, you know, taking valuable leadership skills that I can have for the rest of my life."

"Because I was never one to lead," says Duhaylonsod. "Being a leader isn't an easy job. You deal with a lot of different personalities. You have to find common ground and you have to be understanding."

"I think those are the biggest things, as well as, you know, just taking it," Duhaylonsod concludes, "Just taking the criticism that may come your way. I mean, I've always been pretty good at that, but you know, you learn more once you receive more of it."

The album "Self Portrait," a record of the pandemic by Music Tech, is streaming on all platforms.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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