Kupuna Life: Strumming ukulele to soothe the soul

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The sweet sounds of singing and strumming have returned to Windward Oahu.

This group, made mostly of kupuna, can be found every Monday morning in Kailua.

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“It’s amazing, you know, music should always be shared in person,” said Tamara Moan, a student of YMCA’s ukulele classes.

The YMCA returned to in-person ukulele classes after being taught virtually by Walt Mahealani Mix-Kealekupuna, otherwise known as Uncle Walt.

“And because we were online and Zoom you can’t really sync the sound, so we were always only hearing Walt and our own voice in our own living room,” Moan said.

But they are back in sync with Uncle Walt, who started learning the ukulele at the age of 35 after moving to Hawaii from the mainland.

“I was like a sponge to culture and learning, olelo, the music, everything was so new and fresh to me,” Uncle Walt said. “I just kept taking in and absorbing as much as I could.”

He said it is not only about teaching music and the Hawaiian culture, but also about learning what kupuna have to offer.

“I felt like how could I even come close to doing what those guys did? And this was the best way, to sit down with kupuna, and the benefit is I get to learn,” Uncle Walt said.

“They have the most that they could ever give in life, at this time,” he said.  “Not when they was my age, not when they were 15, but the most right now.”

Uncle Walt still teaches virtually for those who remain at home, and not just Hawaiian songs. Learning, connecting and sometimes even healing through music one lesson at a time.

“It’s wonderful to play these songs that you know have been around for so long and so meaningful to people and just to be able to make a sound in the world,” Moan said.

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