DALE SENAGA.... RENAISSANCE MUSICIAN
Dale is the person who had the most influence over persuading me to entertain at nursing homes. Some may not agree that this is a good thing, but nevertheless, I had been out of music since 1991 and when I got a piano for $100 in 2001, he literally taught me how to play via email and phone conversations.
Dale Retired from the Royal Hawaiian Band at the end of 2009 where he also was awarded the C & C of Honolulu Employee of the Year
Dale has been entertaining at nursing homes since 1991. He and Henry "Boxhead" Yoshino, a noted saxophonist in Hawaii were regulars at Leahi and Kuakini Hospitals among others. Currently, Dale plays solo at the Avalon Nursing Home. He even made a special DVD especially for the Avalon patients in a "karaoke" format, where the patients sing along to old Japanese and Filipino songs. He specifically put the words in large letters so that everyone could read from the T.V. screen and sing along.
Dale retired from the Royal Hawaiian Band after more than 31 years of service. He played the French horn but was more noted for his arrangements that the Band continues to use in their performances. Dale is an accomplished pianist, having backed some of the biggest names in Hawaiian entertainment like Don Ho, Gabe Baltazar, Aiko, the Young Brothers (not the shipping company, but Imai and the late Moku), among many others.
He had not been active in the entertainment community as a pianist while he was fulfilling his duties as an arranger for the Band, so it wasn't until he retired that he is being "rediscovered" as a darn good pianist by some of the top musicians in Hawaii.
Dale's legacy in the music world may come as a result of his arrangements of Polynesian songs and music from the Asian and Pacific Basin. Most of the musicians and music lovers look towards Brahms, Mozart and others as the standard of "good" music. Dale has explored what Hawaii has to offer by creating orchestral arrangements using Hawaiian, Korean, Japanese, Polynesian, Filipino, etc. songs and presenting these pieces for all music lovers to enjoy. Take a listen.
Besides the pieces arranged for the Royal Hawaiian Band, Dale has arranged for the University of Hawaii Orchestra and the Hawaii Youth Symphony. His reward for his donated efforts, according to Dale, is that he has an opportunity to expose young musicians to the beauty of the music and cultures from the Pacific. With the struggling Honolulu Symphony in a state of recess, tourists and residents will become increasingly exposed to Dale's musical creativity through the University Symphony and the Hawaii Youth Symphony and, of course, the Royal Hawaiian Band, where they will continue playing Dale's arrangements through the new century.
This is perhaps my first feature where I didn't have to conduct an interview since I've known Dale for about 45 years. When he was in the Hawaii National Guard Band, he was my roommate whenever the band traveled. If you're ever forced to have to listen to me play the piano and sing, you would do well to remember that Dale was the only music teacher I've ever had.