Kauai Opio and Keiki Orchestra

What is KOKO?

Kaua’i ‘Ōpio and Keiki Orchestra (KOKO) is a free instructional program for Pre-K to 8th graders. KOKO provides instruments, sheet music, music lessons, and orchestra practice at All Saints Episcopal Church, Kapa’a (3-5-year-old) and Boys and Girls Clubhouse, Līhu’e (Kindergarten-8th Grade).


Who is KOKO?

KOKO is the brainchild of Sarah Tochiki, director of KAFME and director of KCC Orchestra, Wind Symphony and Jazz Band. Miss Tochiki asked Miss Lawson to direct KOKO from its inception in Fall, 2019. Miss Lawson is a talented and dedicated musician and educator. She has spent seventeen years teaching privately and in the classroom in the USA and China. She has performed, composed and taught professionally in New York, NY and in Los Angeles, CA. Miss Lawson is the Manager for the nationally performing music group Desperado Orchestra L.L.C. Lawson is trained in Classical and African American Improvisational music and holds a Master’s Degree in Performance and Composition. Miss Tochiki and Miss Lawson both share the desire to provide quality music education programming through a multi-cultural curriculum.


Why is KOKO important for Kaua’i?

There are numerous articles written that discuss how music is a fundamental skill in helping the development of young minds academically, personally and culturally. While learning music, young minds are strengthened, especially parts of the brain that develop language, math, and fine motor skills. Just as important are the psychological tools students use to help practice self-discipline and independent study. As each child is given access and the opportunity to learn, they are also building relationships and safe places in their community where they learn, grow, and socialize with others that share the same musical interests. Both Miss Tochiki and Miss Lawson played in youth orchestras as young children and teenagers. Both recognize and are grateful for the opportunity they had, and wish to give similar opportunities to Kaua’i keiki.


The violin is an instrument that originates from Europe and has been shared throughout the colonized world. Though originally created in Europe, the violin and string music can filter through the environment of its surrounding community as it has in Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Reggae music that stems from the African diaspora. The African American approach to music created an alternative epistemology to the traditional European music methods and theories. The KOKO program highlights the European tradition of learning classical music and violin while simultaneously empowering and exploring music of other cultures so reflective of our multi-cultural state and county.


Where does KOKO funding come from?

KOKO is a program that succeeds because our community recognizes the need to have access to instruments, the importance of musical development of our keiki, and the strong leadership provided by Miss Tochiki. The Boys and Grils Club, The Mokihana Club, The Rotary Club of Po’ipu, The D’Addario Foundation, Hungry For Music, Kaua’i Society of Artists and many private donors are the reason why KOKO continues to provide programming. It is the support of our community that creates the opportunity for KOKO to continue and for KAFME to thrive.


What would KOKO expect from my child and me if we join?

While KOKO is founded on the belief that education should be provided for all of our youth, it is also important to recognize the importance of the ‘ohana. Parents can reinforce the dedication to attend, the positive encouragement to continue and the value of learning to play a musical instrument through the tradition of performing, conscientious practice at home, and the sharing of a collective experience. Through community support and performances, students are able to develop self-confidence tools and habits of perseverance.