Sing Flower and Lei Songs for May Day

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Celebrate May Day with Ukulele Mele

In celebration of May Day, join us for the next Sing-Along with Mele Fong series as we learn flower and lei songs on Thursday, May 4 from 10 a.m. – noon at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. The program evokes the feeling of sing-along with Mitch Miller programs as the lyrics and ‘ukulele chords are projected on the large screen in front of room for everyone to follow. ‘Ukulele players are invited to bring instruments to play along. Lunch is optional. Call Kaunoa at 808-270-7308 to register for the program on Maui.

Listen to our recording of the hapa haole song “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii” at http://ukulelemeleonmaui.com/images/fullaudio/MayDay.mp3  and then learn how to play it via private ‘ukulele lessons with me via private webcam lessons from the comfort of your home.

May 1st is also known as “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.” Invented in 1927, writer and poet Don Blanding wrote an article in the local paper suggesting that a holiday be created around the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing lei. Fellow writer Grace Tower Warren came up with the idea of a holiday on May 1st in conjunction with May Day. She is also responsible for the phrase “May Day is Lei Day.”

The first Lei Day was held on May 1, 1928 and everyone in Honolulu was encouraged to wear lei, and festivities were held downtown with hula, music, lei making demos and exhibits and contest.

Originally from Oklahoma, Don Blanding is also credited with inventing the custom of tossing your lei overboard when you sailed from Honolulu. If the lei came back to shore, it meant you would return.

For more about May Day in Hawaii, visit

For more information about my classes offered at Kaunoa Senior Center, click here.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Celebrate Earth Day at Haiku Flower Festival

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Celebrate Earth Day at Haiku Flower Festival Saturday

This year’s Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, happens to fall on the same day as the 24th Annual Haiku Ho’olaule’a and Festival on Maui. Hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Haiku Elementary School. This free local festival benefits the school, Haiku Community Association, and the Boys & Girls Club Maui-Hailku. It is one of the biggest events of the year, attracting over 7,000 attendees in past years. Entertainment runs all day including Richard Ho’opii who sings traditional Hawaiian songs and plays ‘ukulele along with his family at 11 .am. In past years, I have worked a booth to educate people about invasive plants and animals that threaten our environment. Now I get to go and “just have fun.” Visit http://haikuhoolaulea.org/ for the entertainment lineup and more.

“Founded in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues, Earth Day is now a globally celebrated holiday that is sometimes extended into Earth Week, a full seven days of events focused on green awareness. The brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson and inspired by the antiwar protests of the late 1960s, Earth Day was originally aimed at creating a mass environmental movement. It began as a “national teach-in on the environment” and was held on April 22 to maximize the number of students that could be reached on university campuses. By raising public awareness of air and water pollution, Nelson hoped to bring environmental causes into the national spotlight.” Visit http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/earth-day for more on the history of Earth Day.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Review Kauai Sing-Along Songs

www.UkuleleMeleOnMaui.com“What have you been doing since high school?” asked Roger Hughes, a classmate of my husband’s who was visiting Maui with his wife from California. Roger called us up out of the blue and since they were “age eligible” we invited them to join us at our program. How fun it was to meet and catch up.

Sixteen people signed up for my Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – Kauai Songs on Thursday, April 6 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 9 songs up on the screen so everyone could see. The presentation of 51 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 9 Hawaiian and hapa haole songs in the order we played them:

  1. Maika’i Kauai – I Wanna Rest and Hum Ding-Ah Strums.
  2. Beautiful Kauai – Latin Strum.
  3. Aloha Kauai – I Wanna Rest Strum.
  4. Hele On To Kauai – Hum Ding-Ah Strum.
  5. Hula O Makee – ‘Ōlapa Strum.
  6. Hanalei Moon – I Wanna Rest Strum.
  7. Hanohano Hanalei – Hum Ding-Ah Strum.
  8. Pupu O Niihau – I Wanna Rest Strum.
  9. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum.

You can learn to play some of the songs with my unique strums from wherever you live. Here are the ways:

  1. Listen to the audio recordings from the free online Fan Club and then schedule private lessons on Maui or via webcam. I will send you the song sheet and give you feedback.
  1. Download a single song purchase for $10 and get the song sheet, video lesson, audio recording, and video story behind the story in keeping with Hawaiian oral history traditions.

Stay tuned for the next Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – Flower and Lei Songs for May Day coming on Thursday, May 4. Learn more about classes offered at Kaunoa Senior Center for 2017.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

April 26 Lahaina Library Show

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Learn about the history of the ‘ukulele and enjoy a concert

The Hawaiian Serenaders will be presenting a program History of the ‘Ukulele and Concert on Wednesday, April 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Lahaina Public Library. Come and learn about the ‘ukulele, Hawaii’s official instrument, including the types, parts, tuning, and how playing the ‘ukulele has evolved. Discover the stories behind the songs and enjoy a musical mixed plate concert as we embark on a musical journey through time. The program is sponsored by UH Statewide Cultural Extension Program and thus free to the public. Join us!

History of the ‘Ukulele and Concert
by The Hawaiian Serenaders
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.
Lahaina Public Library
680 Wharf Street

Read more about The Hawaiian Serenaders

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Fong Family Memories – Tribute to My Parents

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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 https://youtu.be/OfslGCy4uc4

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Prince Kuhio Day 2017

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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