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Cross Cultural Understanding

28 Dec

repost: Cross-Cultural- Understanding from Piano_Noir  

First published Dec. 28, 2012

Aloha…is from a land of Hawaiian Ukulele music.  Ukelele music is popular among the local Hawaiian families and is frequently used at weddings and celebrations. Aloha land is 4920 miles away from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the East Coast of the United States where traditional Christian weddings are plentiful. Philadelphia, PA where Rachmaninoff hisself conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, where the legendary piano instructors Gary Graffman & the Sokoloffs reigned for over 50 years as the best piano instructors on the planet through the 2000 millenium. Though I was adventurous as a prior student of a Hungarian piano instructor who was a collegue of Zoltan Kodaly where local folk music was embraced, the Hawaiian attitude is anything except harsh.

I was in a condusive traditional Classical piano environment and learned piano in a very strong Christian based community. One where every church has at least one grand piano, if not two or more grand pianos and electric organ or common pipe organ. I grew up with the general knowledge that Bach and many of the great keyboard Composers were supported by the Church and wrote sacred as well as secular music, with a pethora of churches and institutions where I could perform on a variety of period instruments frequently.  In diminished comparison, Hawaii barely houses an electric keyboard at any church, let alone 1 studio upright or pipe organ.

In the current 21st century economy many Hawaii churches have “gotten rid of” their keyboard instruments due to maintenance costs and vandalism from an obtrusive population. Before moving to Hawaii, I took my east coast musical environment for granted and wished the general population was understanding of my Japanese heritage. However, most of the Christian community included everyone in the USA who has traditionally hated the Japanese;- including newly formed Korean specific churches. So I continually befell physical attacks, verbal criticism, and blatant discrimination on the East coast for most of my 30 some years of life.

So, I move to Hawaii and am inundated with a severe local attitude that is against piano.  They say I have  “too high makamaka”  think I’m better than them. I worked at piano because I loved it and my talent put me through college with a scholarship.

The other day, a local parent mentioned to me that his child was learning a popular “Traditional Christian wedding piece” on their keyboard on her own. This is the first time that I have gotten to explain that these are normal pieces, that many children on the mainland learn to play at their family weddings. It’s difficult for me to believe that the culture in Hawaii is so vastly different from the East Coast USA that these things are so “foreign” to local Hawaii. Especially since I see the religious rosary with crosses dangling from many rear view mirrors, and other Christian car markings. Just as most mainland people could not explain the differences and nuances of Hawaiian musical performances because they don’t know the Hawaiian traditional song repertoire;- most Hawaiian Islander natives could not begin to explain the subtleties of any Classical piano repertoire performance.

edited: Nov. 23, 2016

Artist at Ritz Carlton Kapalua- Maui

23 Dec My Fish Go by A.M.Kneale
My Fish Go by A.M.Kneale

My last conversational drawing with Mario Pascuale, He and Katia were drawing fish- so I joined by drawing Go (my Betta)My first try at the technique (though a bit lazy) while chatting with Macario Pascuale in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton.

I got away to Maui for a couple of days, at a friend’s invitation who is a piano lover. I only got to sit at a piano for a few minutes upon arrival, a nice breather. Though, Hawaii hasn’t been too kind to being nuturing of my hands and technique due to locals not understanding how delicate the mechanism of hand/arm etc is in creating tone. After breakfast the following morning the artist-in-residence Macario Pascual at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua- who was sharing a simple batik type technique with guests in the lobby outside the gallery. He shared some of his wonderful batik designs on paper. And had a beautiful display of his oil painting “en plein air” that are wonderfully soft and clear. I learned that he also teaches tennis to local Maui residents and supports his teaching largely through sale of his paintings. Thanks to Macario Pascuale for sharing his painting passion!

A link to Macario Pascuale’s website:

Pineapple by AMKneale

My first try at the technique (though a bit lazy) while chatting with Macario Pascuale in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton. A not so modern looking pineapple.

11.11.11 Full Moon

13 Nov 11.11.11 APEC under the Full Moon
11.11.11 APEC under the Full Moon

11.11.11 a full Moon Shines

A rainy Sunday

23 Oct

Last night I got out of the studio with nearby tooting sounds of flute and brass and joined a small crowd of martial arts goers for dinner. The Spaghetti Factory at Ward Centers. It’s probably the only place where there is a gracious helping of fine articulations and art that have any connection to East Coast and New England styles. I opted for a glass of Chianti $8.50 and the Olive Tapenade @$6.50 with toast. It was almost the only vegan item on the menu without ordering something special. I should have only ordered the wine and gotten a second glass and enjoyed the stained glass. And, as usual, I had to explain to the crowd there that I’m a pianist/ instructor who just got out of a music studio.

The excessive hugging to say farewell isn’t something that I would ever do on the mainland for fear of giving a signal to others that I’m an easy target to hunt down and that everyone is entitled to wrap around me. Somehow, Hawaii’s martial arts and the expectation of these things still doesn’t sit well with me. Especially if they’re coming off the mat where there is foot fungus and ringworm potential in a tropical climate. In fact I’m ostracized if I say that I don’t like giving hugs to people I just met. If not, I suspect I run the chance of being battered and beaten up. My body is mine, even the handshakes after practice at the piano hurt. Why do they feel they’re entitled to it? I detest this behavior so much.

I’d opt for Asian style clean and elegant bows, the kind that we do in New York when meeting other Asians.

So anyway, I survived the meal.

I’d love insight on this matter.

They think I’m dumb…

11 Oct

My one of my Aunts Uncles in Japan belong to a family that has international and historical value in building Japanese architecture, even today. One of my Uncles in the United States, killed Japanese at Iwo Jima and received 2 silver stars from the US Navy. The Americans where I lived as a child were brutal on me. Growing up as a first generation Japanese-American in Quakertown, Pennsylvania held no hint of freedom for me, or my mother. Not only at school, but at church, and at home. My Lutheran Church pastor from my birth till I left for college, and then after I died;- had tried to kill me, literally. Once he did so in front of my Japanese mother at a confirmation class, because I mentioned Japan. My bi-lingual knowledge of Japanese was discouraged once I attended elementary school at age 5. My Japanese story books that my mother read to me were confiscated from the home. And when I tried to say hello to my Japanese grandmother (a recognized Japanese National Artist), the phone was ripped out of my hands on numerous occasions. My father wasn’t de-classified from the USAF OSI until 2001. Mental and Emotional bludgeoning of my existence being part Japanese was ongoing throughout my life. There were several girls at elementary school who ganged up and threw me in the dirt regularly at elementary school;- with teachers watching, and called me racist names.

Today, I live in Hawaii. Since my brother’s death and others in Pennsylvania and New York trying to kill me. I have few friends because I cannot forgive the immense amounts of insults I have endured my entire life. Then at college in New York;- Cornell University wanted me to pay/ through loans or otherwise over $52,000 a year at the time to learn how to speak basic Japanese. That is the value of my life to the Americans. I have no value to them. They have depreciated me in every aspect and every social strata. Aside from a few Naturalized American piano instructors that I have met. I have had no help. I don’t like war. However, it seems Americans have made their point noticed for over 50 years to my relations in Japan. I was held like a hostage, discriminated against in every way, and denied basic human rights even at College and once I entered the work force;- due to being a first generation American. Even my father mentioned to me, that he could no longer protect me, months before my brother’s death. Protection from people he may or may not know in US intelligence, destroying what is left of my life. I am very depressed. Hawaii has been only an extension of my life for an additional 3 years. I still have no decent or suitable support. I was picked up from the Honolulu airport by someone who trains military intelligence and federal agents. My life, is not free. I have few options. I am merely a pawn. If I had means to improve my life I would. I barely survive. My survival is also my biggest expense.

Yet people choose to mock me, Americans and others. Because I only speak english well (should they choose to acknowledge this). And then, others see hurting me as financial opportunity;- to start a war, have someone to blame, or numerous other things. So, I only sit here in Hawaii, practicing piano only for myself (without significant financial gain, if any) until someone on one side or other terminates my life, as the ending statement to another facet of an American-Imperial-Multi National relationship. I am sorry that no one understands this matter and their spirits are too immature and too greedy at all levels. I can only hope for a true apocalypse by natural disaster to alleviate the tension. I see how Occupy Wall Street is blind. I see how Americans manipulate other countries to cause war, despite good intentions. I see how people blame their leaders rather than themselves. And I see those who take pride in causing such harm in the world because it makes them feel big. It is a small planet, deeply affected by people bigger than butterflies.


Like the Son of Man – Protesting

9 Oct October 8, 2011 Chinatown, Honolulu

After I caught some dim sum at Legends Vegetarian in Chinatown, I picked up a tropical fruit smoothie (minus milk & bubbles) from Mai. Since the fine on the Bus (Federal public transportaion)  is over $100,000 for drinking;- I walked around Chinatown & waited till the smoothie was gone. I had brought my camera along today since I was headed to the studio.  I snapped a few quick photos of these APEC & Occupy Wall Street protestors sitting at the Gates of Chinatown. I finished my smoothie, full of anti-oxidants, and got on the Bus.

October 8, 2011 Chinatown, Honolulu

Sat. October 8, 2011 1:15pm Chinatown, Honolulu Hawaii. A month before the APEC meeting in Waikiki, Hawaii.

Chinatown: Occupy Protest at gates

Protestors at the Gates of Chinatown, Honolulu. In 1 month the APEC meeting will be held in Waikiki, Hawaii.

APEC Traffic 2011

3 Oct

The last Friday of September 2011. Vog creates sinus congestion. (APEC) Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is turning Honolulu’s roadways into parking lots. Many roadways are undergoing construction and have been narrowed to one lane. This includes the H1, Ala Moana Blvd, and others;- just for starters. It took one waitress 2 hours to drive from Pearl City to Honolulu’s downtown that’s an extra 1 hour and 40 minutes. Another, took 2.5 hours to go the same distance by bus with an added taxi drive and some New York City style walking (down the sidewalk faster than traffic) and was late to work by a half hour. One Taxi (422-2222) driver mentioned that a palm tree had been planted for the APEC attendees. The newly planted palm tree has traffic down to one lane on each side of it.  Whatever you do, good luck! This traffic conundrum has Washington DC’s beltway beat in least distance, most roads/highways, and most time. Congratulations to one of President Obama’s home state in winning Worst Traffic award in the Nation.

Sugary Sweet

3 Oct Fresh coffee grown on Oahu.
The North Shore's Best - photo by Angela M. Kneale

Sugary Sweet flavored with coffee and a great landscape minutes from the beach

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