"Meet Our Students": Kanoa Mendenhall (CC '19)

What year are you at Columbia? How long have you been a participant of the MPP? 

Sophomore (CC ’19). This will be my second year in the MPP. 

What are/will you be majoring in?

Most likely East Asian Languages and Cultures.

How have you benefited from MPP programs and performance opportunities?

The MPP has been a great influence on my experience so far at Columbia. I’ve participated in jazz and world music groups led by great faculty, and this year I’m fortunate to be able to take private bass lessons through the MPP. I’m constantly inspired by my peers who participate in the program, and I get to have opportunities to collaborate on creative music both in and out of the classroom. In addition, this is my second year in the Juilliard Exchange, and I always look forward to the concerts the MPP hosts at St. Paul’s Chapel each semester. The MPP also provides many gig opportunities on campus, and I’ve had some memorable moments participating in the jazz demonstrations for the Music Hum classes each semester. 

Any tips on how a student might be able to fully take advantage of all the musical offerings at Columbia? 

The beginning of the year is an important time for the music program due to audition season, info/jam sessions, etc…stay on top of your calendar. The classes from music department are wonderful…I’m taking an Instrumentation course right now with Professor Jeffrey Milarsky (CUO), and it’s one of my favorite classes so far here at Columbia. Also, take advantage of the resources at the music library and the student discount tickets at Miller Theatre!

How do you balance the busy academic schedule with practice time? Any tips?

My first year was rough. Getting used to the high pace of New York life and multiple commitments between two different schools was overwhelming. That said, I think I got my schedule for this year figured out…My focus is and always will be music, so I make it a goal to go to the practice room each day and practice for a couple of hours. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or entering procrastination mode, I remember my mother telling me to take 'baby steps’…one step at a time, and you will get everything accomplished. Every morning I write down a list of priorities, errands, etc., and this clears my mind and gets me ready for the day. I take advantage of every moment - on my way to classes at Juilliard I’ll make sure to bring some CC reading for the subway (it’s one of the only spots where I can focus and read). I make it a priority to set aside some time to go to concerts and jam sessions as frequently as possible.

What was the most memorable musical experience in your life?

A memorable experience happened just last week…I was in the house band of the Kitano jam session, and I know something’s off because there’s a bunch of security surrounding the premise. An hour into the set, I see a familiar face a few feet away. Turns out to be Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan with other ministers…attending a jam session. He offered to buy me a drink but I declined, oops. 

What does making music mean to you?

Music means everything to me. My parents shared their love for music to me from a young age, so it’s hard for me to not relate my life to music. Listening to/performing music makes my spirit happy, and I love to share my love for music to the world.

Anything you would like to share with the readers? (favorite food, summer activities, favorite quote, etc)

My favorite food is curry udon. I’m into ultra-light backpacking, and a few summers back I hiked 300 miles on the Oregon portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Also, tune into Columbia’s radio station (WKCR) every other Friday 5am-8:20, I’m one of the jazz programmers!