Kadena students learn to really make music
Stars and Stripes May 31, 2008
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — The tricky thing about building a sanshin is stringing the instrument together, according to 10-year-old David Dominguez.
"You don’t want them too loose or too tight," he said. "You have to have patience when putting it together."
And David should know.
The fourth-grader, along with 47 of his Kadena Elementary School classmates, spent Thursday afternoon assembling the banjo-like instrument.
The sanshin, which means "three strings," was introduced to Okinawa by the Chinese during the Ryukyu Kingdom era (15th century to the 19th century). The instrument traditionally consists of a snake-skin-covered body, a neck and three strings.
The project is part of the school’s Japanese Partial Immersion program which incorporates the language, culture and food into the curriculum.
The program is available to one classroom for each grade level at the school, the only one on Okinawa that offers the program, school officials said.
Japanese school artist-in-residence Uehara Shoei, who makes and plays the sanshin, showed students how the instrument is made, how to attach the strings and tune it.
And of course, the best part — holding jam sessions.
"It’s fun building it but it’s fun playing it," said fourth-grader Jessica Driver, 9. "I can teach it to my kids one day."
The project was supported by a $2,000 grant from the Marine Thrift Shop on Camp Foster, said Principal Stanley Hays.
Fourth- and fifth-graders assembled about 60 of the wooden instruments, which will be used next school year to teach students, Hays said.