Dwaine Woo, left, high school band director, and Maribelle Fernandez, right, assistant band director.
This school year, Hawaii Baptist Academy welcomed two new band teachers to the middle and high school. Dwaine Woo is the director for the high school program, and Maribelle Fernandez is the assistant band director, teaching middle school beginning and advanced band, and also assisting Woo with the high school ensembles.
Woo received a degree in Music Composition from the University of Hawaii and studied at the University of Kansas as a graduate student in Music Composition. He has a very diverse musical background and has performed in a church choir, Hawaii Opera Theater, Jazz choir, and various shows and bands from middle school through college. He plays piano and bass at church.
Prior to HBA, Woo was a private music instructor and taught in the Hawaii Department of Education, Pacific Rim Bible University and Hawaii Mission Academy.
“Teaching during this COVID season has been a blessing in disguise. Although band could not be taught as in the past, it has opened doors to other aspects of music that build a total musician. Subjects such as music theory, appreciation, musicianship, composition/arranging, and other music genres will be explored this year. We will also be looking into virtual concerts and smaller ensemble performances,” explains Woo.
Encouraging and building a student’s ability to communicate effectively through music, as well as equipping students with a skill set to continue their love for music beyond high school, is the overarching goal for this school year.
“My biggest hope is to be an example of how Jesus is active in our lives and how they can be a living testimony to others, especially through music. What a blessing it is to teach biblical principles using music as a tool.”
Fernandez is a graduate of Pearl City High School, and received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. She was previously the band director at Holy Family Catholic Academy for two years, teaching general music for students from kindergarten through fourth grade, and middle school band for students in grades five through eight.
“My role as an educator is to provide a safe and welcoming environment where students can learn and grow. I want students to know that it is okay to make mistakes, and what we learn from them shapes us to become better people. I believe that through teaching music, students can learn life lessons that they can carry with them in classes outside of band and into the world as they grow up to be adults,” said Fernandez.
Teaching during the pandemic has brought out different forms of innovation by incorporating technology into her teaching, especially since the school year opened online. Instruments were issued prior to the start of school, which allowed classes to successfully begin virtually via Google Classroom and Google Meet. Even though they were unable to meet in person at that time, it was nice to have the students playing their instruments.
“In preparation for rehearsals in person, I have done research and read studies on how to make playing as an ensemble as safe as possible for the students. Band classes are now rehearsing outdoors under tents while also following social distancing guidelines. We will continue to follow the guidelines and practices to keep everyone healthy.”
Her goal for the band program this school year is to create a safe environment for music making, both physically and emotionally.
“Music can be used as a way to bring people together and celebrate Christ. By improving their skills and love for music, we can make our music more perfect so we can rejoice and celebrate together.”