Ukulele Beyond The Basics

First four ‘ukulele courses at Kaunoa 2009-2011

Ukulele Beyond The Bascis

Graduation Day 2009

In January 2009, Mele began teaching a “Ukulele Beyond The Basics” 6-month course that met weekly on Monday mornings for 2-hours and culminated in a graduation program where students demonstrated their collective abilities to play 7 different ukulele strums to selected songs accompanied by Richard Tom on upright bass.

During the graduation program, Pomp and Circumstance was played as students processed in the room to receive their diploma signed by Mele and the Director of Kaunoa Senior Services. Then each student received an identification card to “Mele’s Ukulele Alumni Club” for a lifetime of ukulele fun and fellowship.

Four classes ranging from 8-13 students each were held from January 2009-December 2011. Several students progressed into the Maui Ukulele Pops Band and other classes as Mele’s initial experiment to offer musical lifelong-learning classes at Kaunoa continues to evolve.


“I meant it with all sincerity when I said “Two Thumbs Up!” Way Up! The structure, the organization, the motivation and the vision you provided for this program are the hallmarks of the art and craft of teaching at its best. I hope I’m smart enough to continue. Please stay in touch.” – Michael Heffernan (Class 3 in 2010).

“Can’t thank you enough for all I’ve learned from you and for the joy you’ve given me. As I said, music is my therapy (thank goodness!) I’ve really enjoyed your class and I have learned a lot. Thanks for being such a wonderful teacher and friend. Hope to continue learning from you. The Boom-Shaka Kid.” – Florence Tanaka, age 77 (Class 1 in 2009).

“I loved it twice as much the second time around. Music with you has been the highlight of 2009. Mahalo again and thanks so much Rich.” – Kathleen Figueira (Class 2 in 2009).

“Thank you for the experience. I have always wanted to learn to play the uke and I have gone beyond with the different strums. I love it so much. I know more than I thought I would in the months before.” – Kelcy Bal (Class 1 in 2009).

“Your continued teachings and the perpetuation of our wonderful ukulele instrument will be a legacy of Kaunoa Senior Center. Keep it up and the blessings will be with you and Rich forever.” – Sandy Magallanes, (Class 3 in 2010).

MEMORABLE MOMENTS – CLICK ON A PHOTO for the story behind it

Students demonstrated their collective abilities to play 7 different ukulele strums to selected songs (each class voted on what they wanted to play from the curriculum) accompanied by Richard Tom on upright bass. This is what Class 1 selected:
1. E Maliu Mai – Morse Code Strum.
2. Sophisticated Hula – Boom Shaka I Wanna Strum.
3. Blue Hawai’i – Swing Strum.
4. Ulupalakua – ‘Ōlapa Strum.
5. Maui Waltz – Waltz Strum.
6. My Yellow Ginger Lei – I Wanna Rest Strum.
7. Ku’u Morning Dew – Latin Strum.

Class 1 – 10 students graduated 15 June 2009 (2 couples – Hayashis and Kaumeheiwas).
Andrea Kaumeheiwa, Eileen Taketa, Ellen Yamamoto, Faith Ito, Florence Tanaka, Gail Hayashi, Hinano Kaumeheiwa, Kathleen Figueira, Kelcy Bal, and Mel Hayashi.

Class 2 – 10 students graduated 17 December 2009.
Beverly Romias, Bunky Gannon, Cindee Burkitt, Irene Aquino, Kathleen Figueira, Linda Ewing, Norman Oshiro, Ricky Gannon, Roy Nagasone, and Sandy Magallanes.

Class 3 – 13 students graduated 3 June 2010 (1 couple – Huelsmanns).
Angie Strahn, Aulani Takatsuka, Beverly Lawler, Bunky Gannon, Holly Huelsmann, Janet Rineer, Joan Hiyakumoto, Maricruz DeRoetth, Michael Hefferman, Nancy Maslen, Nona Weaver, Sandy Magallanes, and Tom Huelsmann.

Class 4 – 8 students graduated 16 December 2011 (1 hula and line dance teacher – Lucky Cabral).
Charles Calvan, David Fukuda, Doug Miller, Jim Harris, Lucky Cabral, Martina Benedetti, Shirley DePonte, and Vicky Malaqui.