The sounds of Hawaii come from all over the islands. You’ll hear it in the calm of the ocean, in the majesty of the mountains and in the gentle breeze of the tropical tradewinds. But nothing shares the spirt of Aloha better than Mele Hawaii, or Hawaiian music.

Kumu Alan Akaka performing with his music students.

When visiting the islands, there’s always a chance you’ll find a free music or hula workshop. Most times, it’ll be at hotels or at cultural festivals. But if you’re really interested in learning the art forms, then I’d suggest taking a private lesson. You’ll not only get inpidual attention but also an opportunity to learn the cultural significance and history linked to each instrument or song. You might even pick up a Hawaiian word or two!

One of the well-known schools that you may want to check out is Ke Kula Mele Hawaii, which translates to School of Hawaiian Music. Not only is it appropriately named, but it’s the brainchild of Hawaii’s top steel guitarists, Alan Akaka. Through Ke Kula Mele Hawaii, visitors can learn to play the steel guitar, ukulele, Hawaiian-style base or guitar. There are morning and afternoon workshops that include lesson materials, refreshments and transportation to and from your hotel. The school is at his home in Kailua, but in some cases, Kumu Akaka goes to the hotel.

I like what it says on the school’s website, “Ke Kula Mele Hawaii is a place where creative and musical ideas can be developed, nurtured, and shared…firmly built on a foundation of Hoihi (Respect), Kuleana (Responsibility), Malama (Care for), and Aloha (Love).” When I was an eighth grader at Kamehameha School, I remember having Kumu Akaka as my music teacher. He shared with us his passion for Mele Hawaii and taught us how those core Hawaiian values are important not only in the world of music but in our everyday lives. Although I never pursued music as a career, I’m still so grateful to have had Kumu Akaka as a mentor. I am a better Hawaiian because of kumu like him, who strive to teach students above and beyond the parameters of a single subject.

A big smile in celebration of Hawaiian music!

Ke Kula Mele Hawaii will be performing at the upcoming 2012 Aloha Festivals Keiki Hoolaulea at Pearlridge Center. The event is on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, 1:15 to 2 p.m. It would be a good chance to see what they’re all about!

KE KULA MELE HAWAII • Private lessons in steel guitar, ukulele, Hawaiian-style base or guitar; lessons via Skype; workshops; intensive courses • www.kekulamele.com

Photo Credit: Ke Kula Mele Hawaii

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