Did you know, the ukulele has its origins from Portugal? Over 130 years ago Portuguese sugar cane workers brought machetes (instruments, not knives) to Hawaii. A few tweeks and modifications later and Hawaii’s ukulele was born. It became a hugely popular instrument as it is small, portable and with four strings, easy to learn. By the way, ukulele is pronounced oo-kuu-leh-le (oo as in too, not you-kuu-leh-le).
At the local elementary school, kids take group lessons starting in second grade. It’s easier on the ears than recorders, trust me! They remain a popular instrument, especially with men. I am sure you have heard of one of Hawaii’s most legendary singers IZ who accompanied himself on the ukulele (Somewhere over the Rainbow). Also, check out Oahu’s Jake Shimabukuro.
If you are in the market for an instrument, you are in luck. Here on Maui you can find them everywhere. Try the ABC store or Whalers General Store for a cheap instrument. Or, if you are looking for a better quality or perhaps even hand-made ukulele, check out Mele Ukulele at their Shops at Wailea or Wailuku stores! They have instruments for all budgets and from our experience great customer service, from helping you choose your perfect ukulele to doing repairs. Yes, they service all their instruments. Remember to get a case to protect your instrument! You can even get an electric pick-up installed so everyone can better hear you practice (if you have an amp, I guess)!
Free ukulele group lessons!
On the fence about ukuleles? Mele Ukulele offers FREE group lessons at the Shops at Wailea every Monday from 5:30-6:30pm at the center courtyard (you may need to stop by the store to borrow an instrument). Learn how to play and how this instrument is part of Hawaiian culture!
Want more? Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday there are additional lessons as part of Wailea Wednesdays’ Ukulele Mix Plate program, also in the courtyard.