Music for the Birds

Music for the Birds

Melissa Price (Natural Resources and Environmental Management) was interviewed on the Hawai‘i Public Radio show The Conversation about her collaboration with the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra in the project Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds, a multidisciplinary effort to educate elementary and secondary students on O‘ahu about Hawai‘i’s endangered native bird species and the importance of conservation efforts through music and art. She discusses all the different reasons these native birds are becoming extinct, and whether there are any signs of hope. She explains that she hopes audiences will understand why it’s important to save those that are threatened with extinction and work together to protect them.

The project included educational concerts by the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra that brought together approximately 3,000 students, teachers, parents, scientists, educators, composers, artists, and conservationists to celebrate Hawaiʻi’s endangered native forest birds through video, animation, hula, and music. Before the concert, the nearly 30 participating schools prepared for the concert and introduced the birds to the students through science, music, art, and social studies with a set of lesson plans that included links to readings and audio and video resources. The lessons focused on the biology of Hawaiian forest birds, their place in culture, and the threats to their continued survival, while also exploring musical aspects such as the structure of a symphony and how some instruments can sound like birds.

The project members are planning to adapt the music and visuals for display at the Bishop Museum, as well as future performances to bring the music of Hawaiian forest birds to an even greater audience on O‘ahu and the neighbor islands. Melissa says, “If we could get every fourth-grade class learning the hula, learning the science, learning the music and attending the symphony every year, that would be a dream come true.” See the UH News Story about the partistsroject, too!