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