Review of ‘Ukulele Program at Lahaina Library

The Hawaiian Serenaders presented History of the ‘Ukulele and Concert to 50-5th graders and community adults.

As we were leaving the Lahaina Public Library after presenting History of the ‘Ukulele and Concert, we overheard the branch manager say “That was one of the best programs we’ve had” to a young man who was helping to put away the chairs. We certainly enjoyed ourselves and are thankful to the University of Hawai’i Statewide Cultural Extension Program who sponsored us. As a requirement of the University’s program, we made sure to provide an educational focus (not solely entertainment) for the audience.

On Wednesday, April 26, my husband Rich and I performing as the professional duo, The Hawaiian Serenaders, gave our 1-hour program to 50-5th graders and 5 community members. We displayed our personal collection of different types of ‘ukulele ranging from soprano, concert, and tenor instruments with 4, 6, and 8 strings. Plus we took my dad’s banjo ukulele and played a song on it. We gave a history of the ‘ukulele, and performed Hawaiian, hapa haole, and pop songs to demonstrate the diversity of music that can be played on Hawai’i’s official instrument. Rich gave a special demo of his ‘ukulele bass and played instrumental solos on it. We led sing-alongs with the audience and were amazed at how much the children knew about music.

We demonstrated a diversity of musical genres played on the ‘ukulele and ‘ukulele-bass.

Here is our song list of 11 songs including 4 with Hawaiian lyrics

  1. Koni Au I Ka Wai – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (history-King Kalakaua patronage)
  2. Puamana – I Wanna Rest Strum (uke began as rhythm accompaniment to singers)
  3. Bill Bailey – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (on banjo uke)
  4. Uwehi Ami & Slide – I Wanna Rest Strum (merging instrumental picking into local song)
  5. Lahainaluna – I Wanna Rest Strum (Kui Lee began contemporary sound of local music in 1960s)
  6. Lahaina – Latin Strum (pop example with sing-along on chorus)
  7. Maui Marathon – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (parody of Crystals song Do Run Run from 1960s)
  8. Ulupalakua – ‘Ōlapa Strum (Hawaiian place name song)
  9. Medley: Maui Waltz/Pua Lilia – 2 Waltz Strums: Thumb Strum Up/Chicken Pluck (3/4 time example)
  10. Blues in the Night – 4And Strum (change genre and change to uke with high A for picking riff)
  11. Fly Me To the Moon – Latin Strum (features u-bass solo and change genre)

After the program, the library branch manager sent us photos she had taken along with a note saying, “Everyone here enjoyed the program.” The next day at a private ‘ukulele lesson, I also received positive feedback from a new student who happens to be a retired teacher and had attended our program.

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.