Top Teachers

Saturday, March 15, 1997

Name: Ellen Yamamura
Age: 49
Position: Teacher, Haiku School
Education: University of Hawaii-Manoa
Pastimes: Playing the piano

How to end on a happy note

For more than five years, Ellen Yamamura has shared her love of music with students from the second to fifth grades at Haiku School by organizing a volunteer choir called "Happy Notes."

The children practice three times a week, sometimes during recesses, and sing at school and community events.

To reduce the cost of participation, Yamamura, a second-grade teacher, makes silk-screen T-shirts for Happy Notes students.

Principal Fern Markgraf said Yamamura's Happy Notes has been very successful. "She does a marvelous job with Happy Notes, and we are happy to have her as a second-grade teacher," Markgraf said.

One of the highlights of the year occurs when the choir sings at Christmas at Kula Hospital, where many elderly are under medical care.

"At first the children are really afraid, but after they start singing and see how people are responding, both sides warm up," Yamamura said. "Socially, you can see them just develop in leadership."

Yamamura said she began playing the piano when she was 5 or 6 years old. Her father, who operated Star Cleaners in Honolulu, played the piano to relax and took the family to concerts.

Yamamura said she plays the piano and organ for Paipala Church in upper Paia on Sundays.

"I would never give a concert. But I enjoy playing. As long as anybody is willing to listen, I'll play," she said.

Gary Kubota, Star-Bulletin

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