Women: Faculty

Barbara Smith

Barbara B. Smith
by Ricardo D. Trimillos
Chair, Asian Studies &  Professor, Ethnomusicology

Pioneer Barbara Barnard Smith founded ethnomusicology at the University of Hawaii and oversaw the development of its graduate programs, the M.A. in 1960 and the Ph.D. in 1993. She has contributed as researcher, performer, educator, advocate and patron.

Researcher/performer. Trained in piano and music theory at the Eastman School of Music she came to Hawaii in 1949, where she immediately recognized the wealth of Asia/Pacific traditions. Initially focusing on Asia, Smith was the first non-Japanese to study koto with the late Michio Miyagi and to receive his permission to teach koto in the United States. She was also the first Caucasian and first woman to perform Iwakuni-style bon dance drumming in Hawaii. In the 1960s responding to concerns by UH students from Micronesia, she began research there. She is currently repatriating field recordings (spanning five decades) to research institutions in the region.

A longstanding member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, she was honored by the organization as its 1986 Charles Seeger Lecturer. Smith edited the MENC Journal October 1972 issue, a signal resource on world music for K-16. She authored the entry on Oceania for the first edition of Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (1949) and produced the first recording of master kayagum performer Byungki Hwang (1964), recently re-issued in Korea in CD format (2001).

Educator. Her accomplishments as educator are far-reaching. Smith’s ethnomusicology initiatives at UH, initially resisted by the department, became forms of legitimization for “hidden” Asia/Pacific traditions. She began summer workshops for public school teachers on music and dance of Asia/Pacific in 1960 with Native Hawaiian colleague, the late Dorothy Gillett [daughter of Dorothy Kahananui, also featured]. She directed training programs at the East-West Center (EWC) for culture workers from Asia and the Pacific. The seeds for multicultural education—now a showpiece for the state—were sown by such visionaries and “rebels” as Barbara Smith.

Her UH and EWC alumni are some 100 strong. They include academics and culture workers not only in Hawaii, the U.S. mainland and Europe, but in 19 countries of the Asia/Pacific region as well. Her concern for native scholarship is notable. To her students she has communicated the ethics of research, a respect for careful writing, and an enthusiasm (in her case seemingly indefatigable) for the discovery of the unfamiliar as well as the reconsideration of the familiar.

Advocate/Patron. Barbara Smith has encouraged ethnomusicology at a number of institutions, including Pomona College and her alma mater, the Eastman School of Music. She has provided scholarships for international students and support for various ethnomusicology projects. In these (and many other) cases her quiet advocacy has been combined with patronage.

Her advocacy has also been vocal: In 1961 she organized court testimony to defeat attempts by a haole firm to copyright the names of traditional Hawaiian instruments. In Spring 2004 she was a prominent presence in the successful demonstration at Hawaii Hall, protesting administrative cuts of lecturer positions in Asia/ Pacific music and dance.

Retired since 1982, Barbara B. Smith continues to be an active part of the Hawaii Program. Her stewardship and contributions reflect her commitment to scholarly rigor, multicultural education and social responsibility.

**Image from the June/July 2007 issue of Hana Hou! The Magazine of Hawaiian Airlines

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Dorothy Mitchell Kahananui (1895-1984)
by Dale Hall
Emeritus Professor (ret.), UHM Music Department

Dorothy Mitchell Kahananui (1895-1984) is the only Native Hawaiian for whom a wing of an academic building on the UHM campus has been named, the Diamond Head wing of Music Building 1.

Born in Koloa, Kauai, Kahananui received a diploma from the Territorial Normal School in 1913, a diploma from the University Extension Conservatory of Music in Chicago, a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University, and an Ed.M. degree from the University of Hawaii in 1936. She taught in elementary schools on Maui and in Honolulu between 1923 and 1930.

Her leadership helped bring the UHM Music Department to its present level of excellence. She served on the UHM faculty from 1931 until her retirement as emeritus professor in 1960. Initially, she taught all ten music courses offered in the Teacher’s College; her commitment to the cause of music education became legendary.

Besides teaching courses for prospective and in-service teachers and supervising student teaching of music, she also taught music history, conduced a non-credit glee club for 20 years, and presented weekly music lessons via radio for Hawaii’s public schools. In addition, she was co-founder and president of the Hawaii Music Educators Association. Her monograph, Music of Ancient Hawaii (Honolulu, 1962), is an important contribution to what is known about indigenous Hawaiian music.

In the words of the Board of Regents, which approved the naming of Music Building 1 in January, 1993, Kahananui was “a brilliant, dedicated music educator ... a scholar of Hawaiian music and chant ...[and] a tireless and outstanding teacher of the Hawaiian language.” From 1923 through World War II, she was the major influence on music education in the state.

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Professor Carey Dunlap Miller (1893-1985)
(Information on plaque under her portrait in Miller Hall)

Carey D. Miller arrived in Honolulu in 1922 to head the Home Economics Department at the University of Hawaii. Under her leadership, the enrollment in her deparment grew from a single student to hundreds of students in foods and nutrition. Professor Miller's accomplishments:

After her retirement in 1958, the University of Hawaii honored Miss Miller by naming the home economics building Carey D. Miller Hall. Her legacy continues through scholarships for hundreds of students pursuing studies in foods and nutrition.

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