If you are ever on the University of Hawaiʻi campus of Honolulu Community College or HCC, there is a good chance you’ll hear music. That’s because HCC is home to the MELE program, which stands for Music and Entertainment Learning Experience. It is the state’s only school for music industry careers, so there are a lot of musically inclined students on campus.
“I don’t think I will ever put down a ʻukulele or a guitar,” said HCC and MELE program student Keanu Solidum. “It will always be a part of my life.”
“I have been doing music for a number of years before the MELE program,” said fellow HCC student Christopher Salvador, who is also in the program. “I wanted to just get educated on the business and legal aspects of the music business.”
The MELE program offers a two-year degree in audio engineering with hands-on instruction on state-of-the-art equipment, and a two-year degree in the music business.
“Everything from record companies, musical publishing companies, artist managers, booking agents, marketing and promotions, all of these types of career pathways are all involved in the industry,” said Eric Lagrimas, the program’s interim coordinator and music business instructor. Hundreds of students have gone through the MELE program since it was launched in 2007.
“Some of our graduates have recently worked with Kanye West, Ludicrous, any aspect of the Hawaiian entertainment industry, Anuhea, as well as many groups that you hear on the radio,” said Lagrimas. “We’re trying to develop a flourishing entertainment industry here in Hawaiʻi, much like a Nashville or a New York and LA. And I think it starts with education and I think educating Hawaiʻi students with these type of skills will basically help the future of the industry.”
The students currently in the program agree.
“I think this program is really good because it will set you up with the fundamentals that you need to grow in order to, you know, kind of grow at the same pace that all the schools are providing on the mainland so I feel they are doing a really great job down here,” said Solidum.
“We have a wonderful facility here for recording as well as business and just talking to the instructors gives you a good perspective of where you might want to go with music,” said Salvador.