Fong Family Memories – Tribute to My Parents

My musical beginnings

On February 10, 2017 my mom passed away making me a motherless child (since my dad had passed away on August 14, 2012.) On March 10, during my mom’s Celebration of Life, I presented a 6-minute slideshow movie titled “Fong Family Memories – A Tribute To My Parents.” The slideshow chronicled 93 years of her life and gives a sense of where I come from. It’s easy to see the musical influence and joy of making music that my parents instilled in me from a young age. In the background you’ll hear the music of Kui Lee singing “Days of My Youth” which he wrote when he was dying from cancer and dedicated to his son.

View the tribute on my YouTube channel at

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Prince Kuhio Day 2017

Sample of my 2016 program on Prince Kuhio

The State of Hawaii designates two state holidays for Hawaiian royalty, March 26 for Kuhio Day and June 11 for Kamehameha Day. Kuhio Day honors Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, one of Hawai’i’s best known leaders. Kamehameha Day honors King Kamehameha the Great (aka the 1st), who united the islands into one kingdom in 1810. Both holidays fall on the actual birthdays of the leaders although statewide celebrations may occur on other days.

This year Prince Kuhio Day falls on the last Sunday of the month and is observed on Monday, March 27 when state and county offices will be closed. Some people commemorate Prince Kuhio by attending special services at Oahu’s Royal Mausoleum where he is buried. Others may attend festivals including statewide canoe races, cultural demonstrations and luaus. In previous years I have given oral history talks and sing-alongs of songs popular during the Prince’s lifetime (1871-1922) at Hale Ho’ike’ike at the Bailey House and at Kaunoa Senior Center (see sample title slide from a presentation in 2016).

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, heir to the throne of the kingdom of Hawaii, prince of the house of Kalākaua, is best remembered for his efforts to improve the lives of the people of Hawai’i. In 1902, Kuhio was elected as Hawai’’s second territorial delegate to the U.S. congress where he served for 10 consecutive terms lasting nearly 20 years until his death. Kuhio was the first Native Hawaiian and the only person elected to the U.S. congress that was born a royal. As a delegate, Kuhio authored the first Hawai’i Statehood bill in 1919. He also won passage of the Hawaiian Homes Act in 1921 which created the Hawaiian Homes Commission and set aside 200,000 acres of land for Native Hawaiian homesteaders. Kuhio’s legacy lives on today in two Native Hawaiian organizations, the Royal Order of Kamehameha which he restored in 1903 and the Hawaiian Civic Clubs which he started in 1918.

Prince Kuhio was born March 26, 1871 on the island of Kauai. His mother was Queen Kapiolani’s sister and his father was the ruling chief and son of the last high chief of Kauai. When Kuhio’s mother died soon after his birth, his Aunt Queen Kapiolani and Uncle King David Kalakaua hanaied (adopted) Kuhio and his brother David Kawananakoa into their family. Kuhio’s cousin Queen Lili’uokalani named him heir to the throne, and thus he was given the title of “prince.” Kuhio married Elizabeth Kahanu and they lived in Waikiki near the present day Kuhio beach. They had no children. Prince Kuhio died on January 7, 1922 at the age of 51 on Oahu.

In 1949, the legislature of the Territory of Hawai’i established Prince Kuhio Day as an official holiday. Today, various landmarks, streets, beaches, and buildings in Hawai’i are named after Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole. A statue of Prince Kuhio by sculptor Sean K.L. Browne was dedicated on January 12, 2002 in Waikiki on Oahu. As a teenager, I used to go paipo boarding (form of surfing) at nearby Kuhio Beach.

Now you know a little about the cultural significance of one of Hawai’i’s state holidays, Prince Kuhio Day that is celebrated on March 26.

Keep traditional Hawaiian music alive!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Sing-Along with Mele Fong on April 6

Sing-Along with Mele Fong on Thursday, April 6

Join us on Thursday, April 6 from 10 a.m. – noon for my monthly Sing-Along with Mele Fong series at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. This month’s theme is Kauai Songs. Ukulele players are invited to bring their instruments and play along as we learn to sing 8 Hawaiian and hapa haole songs about Kauai. Learn to pronounce the Hawaiian words and the story behind each song in keeping with Hawaiian oral history traditions. Follow along as you look up at the screen where the words and ukulele chords are projected in large letters to make it easy to read.

Here’s our song list with unique Ukulele Mele strum:

  1. Maikai Kauai – Hum Ding-Ah Strum
  2. Beautiful Kauai – Swing Strum
  3. Aloha Kauai – I Wanna Rest Strum
  4. Hula o Makee – Olapa Strum
  5. Hanalei Moon – I Wanna Rest Strum
  6. Hanohano Hanalei – Hum Ding-Ah Strum
  7. Pupu O Niihau – Swing Strum (for the nearby island)
  8. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum

We hope to inspire adults of all ages to have fun playing your ukulele the Ukulele Mele Way with lessons. Choose how you want to learn today!

  1. Visit the free online Fan Club to listen to audio recordings of songs you can learn to play to Ukulele Mele Way with private lessons on Maui or via webcam.
  2. Select from 40 Single Song Purchases to download to your digital device to learn to play and get the song sheet, video lesson, audio recording, and video story behind the song.
  3. Buy a packaged song set with book/DVD/CD to match your musical abilities and interests.

Stay tuned for next month’s Sing-Along with Mele Fong series on Flower and Lei Songs of Hawaii in celebration of May Day. Learn more about my class schedule at Kaunoa Senior Center.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Ukulele Workshop and Show March 18

Participate in an ukulele workshop and then watch us perform on stage on March 18

We have two back-to-back events for ‘ukulele players to participate and enjoy on Saturday, March 18 in central Maui.

First, there’s the monthly Ukulele Strumming Workshop from 10 a.m. – 12 noon at Hale Ho’ike’ike at the Bailey House in Museum. Bring your instruments and join in the fun learning my unique method of forming chord shapes with minimal muscle strain and strumming styles for the ‘ukulele that are taught nowhere else. This introduction aims to get you coming back for more via private lessons on Maui, online lessons, single song purchases, or packaged song sets of book/DVD/CD. This will be the last monthly workshop for the season until we resume in October.

Sign up now online to reserve your seat and then pay $10/5 at the door of the museum.

Second, The Hawaiian Serenaders will be in concert at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center from 1– 1:45pm as part of the entertainment lineup for Queen’s Fest honoring the Center’s namesake. Come and enjoy our mix of traditional Hawaiian and hapa haole favorites with unique strumming patterns as we play and sing on ‘ukulele and u-bass. We hope to inspire you with what is possible to play with practice. I teach many of the songs that we perform via private and online lessons. Stick around and visit with us after the show. The Hawaiian Serenaders are the only husband-wife duo that sing and play ‘ukulele professionally on Maui.

Read more about Queen Ka’ahumanu and the festival.

Join us and experience how much fun it is to “Watch. Listen. Play. The Ukulele Mele Way.”

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Review Big Island Songs 2017

Get Single Song Purchases of Big Island Songs & more

“This is my favorite class.” “More people should come to your program.” Hearing these comments from my students brings a smile and sense of accomplishment of achieving my goal of sharing the joy of making music one ‘ukulele players at-a-time.

Eighteen people signed up for my Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – Big Island Songs on Thursday, March 2 from 10:00 a.m. – noon at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults age 55 and better. In the second year, the program evokes the feeling of sing-along with Mitch Miller programs from long ago. I used PowerPoint to project the lyrics and chords for 8 songs up on the screen so everyone could see. The presentation of 47 slides (approximately 4 lines per slide) took 1 hour and 10 minutes. As I introduced each song, I told the story behind it in keeping with Hawaiian oral traditions whether the song was Hawaiian or not. For songs in the Hawaiian language, I taught how to pronounce the lyrics and the translation. We all had fun singing while I played my ‘ukulele and my husband accompanied the group on his u-bass.

Here are the 8 Hawaiian and hapa haole songs we learned:

  1. Kupa Landing – by Lot Keawe, 1890s.
  2. Akaka Falls – by Helen Lindsey Parker.
  3. Kuhio Bay – by Keliana Bishaw.
  4. The Beauty of Mauna Kea – by Keola Beamer, 1976.
  5. Hilo March – by Joseph Ae’a, 1890s.
  6. Kaula ‘Ili – traditional.
  7. My Little Grass Shack – by Johnny Noble, Tommy Harrison, Bill Cogswell.
  8. Hawaii Aloha – by Rev. Lorenzo Lyons, 1800s

You can learn to play three of the above song arrangements from wherever you live. Select the song you want to purchase one at-a-time and get the downloadable song sheet, video lesson, audio recording, and video story behind the song in keeping with Hawaiian oral history traditions whether the song is Hawaiian or not. Click on the song titles below to hear an audio sample:

  1. Akaka Falls – 2 Waltz Strums
  2. My Little Grass Shack – I Wanna Rest Strum
  3. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum

Stay tuned for the next Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – Kauai Songs coming on Thursday, April 26. Learn more about classes offered at Kaunoa Senior Center for 2017.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Queen Ka’ahumanu Festival March 18

The Hawaiian Serenaders return to Ka’ahumanu Center

The Hawaiian Serenaders will be performing on Saturday, March 18 at 1:00 p.m. as part of the Queen’s Festival happening Friday and Saturday at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in Kahului. On Friday night, the Ahahui Ka’ahumanu presents an annual program celebrating the Queen’s birthday with history, hula, song, and draping of leis on the Queen’s statue. On Saturday there will be special performances on stage. It makes sense that the Center would celebrate its namesake with special cultural activities.

Queen Elisabeth Ka’ahumanu was Hawaii’s first female monarch. She reigned for 55 years, making her the longest reigning monarch in Hawaii. A tall woman, Queen Ka’ahumanu was noted for her intelligence, beauty, and fearlessness. More than any other woman in Hawaiian history, Queen Ka’ahumanu created changes in society that continue to impact our lives today.

Elisabeth Ka’ahumanu was a Maui girl, born on March 17, 1768 in a cave in Hana. This was during the period of competition between warrior ali’i families to rule the islands. Thus, Ka’ahumanu’s ali’i parents of Maui and Hawai’i islands hid her so she would not be kidnapped or killed. Ka’ahumanu’s name means “feather cloak.”

Promised at a young age in marriage to Kamehameha, Ka’ahumanu became the king’s favorite wife as he united the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom in 1810. After Kamehameha the 1st died in 1819, Ka’ahumanu created the office of kuhina nui or co-ruler with his young son Liholiho who became the next king. In this unique role, Ka’ahumanu moved from influence to political power.

Ka’ahumanu began the abolishment of the kapu system, the traditional system of religious laws, when she sat down to eat with King Liholiho and broke the law that forbade men and women from eating together. Thus, the Queen changed the daily lives of Hawaiians forever.

Ka’ahumanu was among the first ali’i to convert to Christianity. When the American Protestant missionaries arrived in 1820, she embraced them and encouraged her people to do the same. Ka’ahumanu was one of the original founders of Kawaiaha’o Church on Oahu. Ka’ahumanu wanted a church built and named after her in Wailuku, Maui, but the structure was not completed until after she died.

Ka’ahumanu learned to read, ordered schools built on all the islands, and made books available to the commoners. Opened in 1831, Lahainaluna School on Maui is the oldest high school west of the Rockies. The literacy rate was higher in Hawai’i than across America.

Mele is a member of Ahahui Ka’ahumanu

Ka’ahumanu adopted the black dress worn by the women missionaries and for which the Ahahui Ka’ahumanu regalia is identified. The Ahahui, a royal society of Native Hawaiian women, has been honoring Queen Ka’ahumanu for over a century with chapters on every island. I was sponsored into Chapter IV, Wailuku, Maui, in September 2004 and have served as historian giving oral stories of Hawaiian royalty and their contributions at general membership meetings. Our annual program at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center is one of the few Hawaiian cultural activities open to the public.

This year as a member of the Ahahui Ka’ahumanu I am proud to be offering Hawaiian music entertainment on stage on Saturday as part of the 2017 Queen’s Festival. The Hawaiian Serenaders will play our mix of traditional Hawaiian and hapa haole songs on ‘ukulele and u-bass with unique rhythms and harmonies. Come and see us if you can.

Keep Hawaiian music alive from wherever you live:

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Review Feb 2017 Ukulele Workshop

February workshop fun

Eleven people came to my 40th ‘Ukulele Strumming Workshop on February 18, 2017 at Hale Ho’ike’ike at the Bailey House in Wailuku. This brings the total to 515 people I have taught since my 2-hour workshops began on July 14, 2012. Participants came from Utah, Oahu, and Maui.

My goal for the workshops is to introduce people to the Ukulele Mele Way so they will want to learn more. The youngest participants were a teenage brother and sister from Utah who did great.

We played the following:

Part 1: (3 different strums)
1. Horse with No Name – Chalang-alang strum (Am, A7sus)
2. Lion Sleeps Tonight – Chalang-alang strum and I Wanna Rest Strum (C, F, G7)
3. She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (C, F, G7)

Part 2: (2 different strums)
4. Happy Birthday – Chalang strum and Latin Strum (C, F, G7)
5. My Girl – Latin Strum (C, F, G7)
6. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code strum (C, C7, F, Fm, G7)

The next workshop is scheduled for March 18, 2017. Register now and then pay the $10 non-member or $5 museum member fee at the door-of the museum. This will be the last workshop until October 2017.

Can’t make it to Maui? Schedule private webcam lessons from the comfort of your home while I teach you from mine. Visit my online Fan Club and listen to 98 audio recordings of songs you can learn to play the Ukulele Mele Way with private lessons. Another option is to subscribe to online lessons for self-study or purchase Single Song Lessons (choose from 40 songs) to download to your digital device. There are many ways to have fun learning the Ukulele Mele Way.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Feb 18 Ukulele Workshop

REGISTER NOW for fun making music in a group setting

My monthly ‘Ukulele Strumming Workshop is this coming Saturday, February 18, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Hale Ho’ike’ike at the Bailey House in Wailuku. Join my introductory class to learn unique strumming styles for the ‘ukulele and a method for forming ‘ukulele chords with minimal muscle strain taught by no one else on Maui. Plus, play fun, sing-along songs while accompanied by a professional ‘ukulele bass player who happens to be my husband, Richard Tom (we entertain as a duo, The Hawaiian Serenaders).

Do you play C, F, and G7 chords confidently? Can you strum up and down evenly? Then this workshop is for you. We will go beyond the chalang-alang strum (even up and down strums) and give you a taste of other rhythm patterns. There is no need to read music as we play songs by ear without looking at music.

After the workshop, you can continue learning by scheduling private lessons with me, purchasing packaged sets of book/DVD/CD to take home, or subscribing to online lessons. Experience first hand how much fun it is to “Watch. Listen. Play. The Ukulele Mele Way.”

Cost is $10 or $5 for museum members at the door. Seats are limited so pre-registration is recommended.


For more information, read student testimonials and about past and future workshops on Maui.

Questions? Call me at 808-281-4981 or email

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

5 Songs For Valentines Day 2017

Listen to songs you can learn to play in our Fan Club

Ready for Valentines Day? Instead of chocolate and flowers, why not serenade your Valentine by playing a love song on your ‘ukulele? No need to sing (unless you want to) as you play along to the audio recordings by the professional husband-wife duo, The Hawaiian Serenaders. Not enough time to learn to play the song before the special occasion? No problem – just play the audio recording and enjoy the music – it’s free!

HERE ARE 5 SONGS YOU CAN LEARN TO PLAY. Click on the song category and then search for the song’s title listed alphabetically to listen to the audio recording:



  1. Be My Baby – Pop Songs category
  2. Blue Hawaii – Hapa Haole Songs category
  3. Can’t Help Falling in Love With You – Pop Songs category
  4. Could I Have This Dance – Pop Songs category
  5. My Yellow Ginger Lei (with Hawaiian verses) – Hapa Haole Songs category

Learn to play the above songs via private webcam lessons with me from the comfort of your home. No need to travel to Maui to take private lessons unless you want to. But wait, there’s more!

Visit my online Fan Club to listen to all 98 audio recordings of songs you can learn to play the Ukulele Mele Way. Schedule a lesson and I will send you the PDF song sheets for the audio recording for your selected song.

No one else teaches my method of forming chord shapes with minimal muscle strain and unique strumming styles for the ‘ukulele. Besides, you can learn to play Hawai’i’s official instrument, the ‘ukulele, from a Native Hawaiian with over 50 years of ‘ukulele playing and entertaining experience. Learn from me today!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Chinese New Year 2017

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year began Jan. 28

Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rooster – began the day before my birthday on January 28, 2017 and will last until February 15, 2018. “Kung Hee Fat Choy” (Cantonese) is how we greet each other in Hawaii. What’s the difference between celebrating Chinese New Year and the regular New Year in Hawaii? Look for red firecracker paper strewn around a person’s driveway and the evidence will show you whose house is a Chinese house. Growing up in Hawaii, I remember the fun of burning firecrackers to ward off the evil spirits. Plus there were certain types of traditional foods that we had to eat, for example jai, or monk’s food, along with gau.

When we celebrated regular New Year’s, it was more about going from one relative’s house to another and burning sparklers. We would eat traditional Japanese food at one house, then traditional Chinese at another, and end up with Portuguese soup at neighbors after midnight. What fun we had! When I got older, I would go with friends to watch the aerial fireworks light up the sky, but it was hard to breathe because of all the smoke.

People born in the Year of the Rooster are characterized as honest, energetic, intelligent, flexible and confident. I was born in the Year of the Sheep which means I am tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, and calm.[1] There are many resources about the Chinese zodiac and what the signs mean (if you believe that sort of thing).

One year we were in San Francisco on Chinese New Year and it was great to watch the parade and enjoy the festivities. You don’t need to be Chinese to enjoy the celebration.

Read more stories about growing up in Hawaii.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele