January ‘Ukulele Workshop Review


Twenty-one came to January’s Workshop

We had a full house to start the year of ‘Ukulele Strumming Workshops at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku. Twenty-one people came, tying with the highest number since the workshops began on July 14, 2012. It was great to see so many faces, especially since only six people came the previous month (December is such a busy month for people). This brings the total to 416 served, both residents and visitors alike.

New this time, I asked if anyone was celebrating a birthday this month. “Yes, today is my birthday,” replied Megan Crouse who came to the workshop on her 59th birthday. Thus, I taught “Happy Birthday” with 2 unique ‘ukulele strums as we all sang to her. Coincidently, I found out after the workshop that her brother Roger has taken ‘ukulele classes from me at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. In fact, Roger is a classmate of another student/friend of mine, Holly Huelsmann. What a small world!

My new “save-your-seat” registration process through Eventbrite.com seems to working, as 15 of the 21 people had pre-registered. In fact, one person came because Eventbrite suggested it to her when she registered for something else. Several people returned from previous workshops, some are current students at Kaunoa Senior Center, and some saw the local newspaper articles. The rest heard about the workshop by searching online.

There were 3 beginners, and the rest of the participants said they had little experience. We played the following songs during the 2-hour workshop:

Part 1: (2-3-chord songs)

  1. Horse With No Name –Chalang-alang Strum
  2. Lion Sleeps Tonight – Chalang-alang Strum; I Wanna Rest Strum
  3. She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain – Hum Ding-Ah Strum
  4. Sloop John B – Latin Strum

Part 2: (3+ chord songs)

  1. La Bamba/Twist and Shout – Latin Strum
  2. My Girl – Latin Strum
  3. Happy Birthday – Chalang-alang Strum and Latin Strum with fancy ending
  4. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum

After the workshop, some people had so much fun that they registered for the next month’s workshop. I was also pleased at the YELP reviews that were posted. John Fries wrote “….All the students had a great time and it was especially fun to feel the obvious enjoyment Mele gets out of sharing her skills.”

“Sharing the joy of making music, one ukulele player at a time” is my new mission.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele


Mele Fong is a professional singer, song arranger, and master of multiple strumming styles for the 'ukulele. She is an experienced educator with over 50+ years experience playing the 'ukulele and entertaining worldwide. Mele performs with her husband in the duo "The Hawaiian Serenaders" and leads student groups. In 1996, the duo represented the State of Hawai'i in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Mele and her husband Richard Tom were both born and raised on Oahu and now reside in Maui.