Jake Shimabukuro dedicates music room at alma mater Ala Wai Elementary


A portable classroom at Ala Wai Elementary School is now a musical oasis for students.

The Jake Shimabukuro Clubhouse for Music Learning and Appreciation, also known as “Jake’s Clubhouse,” is equipped with a range of instruments to enhance music education for students, including more than 100 ukulele, a dozen guitars, four pianos and 15 percussion instruments, a mini recording studio, performance stage, classroom space, and ukulele repair workshop.

The ukulele virtuoso and Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner is a former student of Ala Wai Elementary, and helped dedicate the classroom Tuesday along with the nonprofit Music for Life Foundation, which initiated the project. 

“When you see the kind of impact, the positive impact that it has on these students when they have access to instruments, we’re not trying to encourage them to be professional musicians or anything, but music helps them,” said Shimabukuro. “It serves as the vehicle to just kind of open doors to other things, and hopefully it will lead them to something they’re passionate about.”

Ala Wai Principal Michelle DeBusca said the school, which already provides music education for students in all grade levels, envisions Jake’s Clubhouse serving as a resource center for students before, during and after school.

“We want this room to be an inspiration and a place where students can come and explore. Teachers will sign up and use it as much as they want to,” DeBusca said. “Our teachers engage student curiosity and creativity to help our students figure out what their passions are.” 

Leo Daquioag, founder and president of Music for Life Foundation, said in addition to providing musical instruments, the clubhouse is designed to expose students to a range of careers in the music industry, including audio engineering, stage management and songwriting. 

“Our mission is to keep music alive in our schools and this is one of the ways to do it,” Daquioag said. 

Shimabukuro says he hopes this project will inspire other schools to do something similar.

In recognition of the classroom dedication, Gov. David Ige proclaimed Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, 2018 “Music Learning and Appreciation Week” and Mayor Kirk Caldwell proclaimed Oct. 2, 2018 “Jake Shimabukuro Day.”

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