Hawaii Strums for a World Record

It’s gonna be a hana hou (encore) performance for the thousand-plus uke enthusiasts who showed up Saturday to strum through a world record – the largest ukulele ensemble. Although they were about 500 players shy of beating the record set in Sweden, the song they played went beyond Waikiki – swelling with heaps of Aloha that could be heard and felt throughout the world. Participants raise their ukes after playing the musical medley together.

Oahu-born ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro led the group of young, old and everyone in between (including tourists!) at the “Go For Da Record” event. All 1,056 showed up to the Waikiki Shell with their beloved instruments, ranging from family heirlooms worn out after decades of use to ukes fresh off of ABC Store shelves. Some have been playing for 20 years while others had just learned to play that day. This showed that skill level didn’t matter much, but having a heart for music did.

This overwhelming passion heated things up on an already hot day in Hawaii. Participants and supporting spectators grew with anticipation. Just minutes before the big attempt, volunteers hand-counted every ukulele player to ensure an accurate number. Participants stretched out their hands and tuned up their ukes to prep for the five-minute musical medley. The time limit is part of the world-record requirement.

VIDEO:

Hawaii’s attempt to break a world record for the largest ukulele ensemble.

The show began on Jake’s cue. A harmonious crescendo flooded the amphitheater and poured out into Waikiki. It was one of those “chicken skin” moments, especially when a group of children’s voices suddenly rose above the strums as they sang mid-way through the piece. Proud parents and friends weaved in and out of the musicians to get a quick pic while performers’ grins grew as wide as they played loud. And by the end of the medley, everyone raised their ukes above them – the power of music unifying them and resonating throughout Hawaii’s history for many years to come.Proudly showing off items autographed by uke virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro.

They plan to try breaking the world record again but have not set a date. The event brought people from around the world together and extended a giving spirit beyond our Islands’ shores. The event raised money for the youngest victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami and for the Music for Life Foundation, which promotes music and arts for underprivileged kids.

Go For Da Record • For more information, visit www.gofordarecord.org or e-mail info@gofordarecord.org

10 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome attempt and so close…looks like great fun, and good teamwork..Go Hawaii! and yeah, thanks Jake for bringing it on! Imua!

  2. great story! wish I had known about it! would have definitely been there too! Saw Jake in person once at a grad party where he performed and he was amazing!

  3. It was really cool to be there. And even though they didn’t make the record, they were still in good spirits, and everyone couldn’t help but smile! It was a just a fun time overall, kind of like a massive kanikapila jam sesh.

  4. My husband and I flew from Portland, Oregon to participate and were not disappointed even though the record was not broken. It was an incredible experience. We’ll be back when the next attempt is scheduled.

  5. Gearing up to head back for the Hana Hou event on 28 April…. flying all the way in from Northern Virginia / Washington DC Metropolitan area… with a couple of ukulele club members in tow.

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