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Couple’s vision realized in Maui Music Mission

By Staff | Jul 30, 2015

Reuben and Ronda Pali lead Maui Music Mission.

LAHAINA – Maui Music Mission in West Maui aims to inspire hope by giving children the opportunity of a musical experience.

The group was founded by Reuben and Ronda Pali, who have been music partners and vacation bible school teachers for six years. They were married in February 2014.

Maui Music Mission is a continuation of their “Puamana Boys” group that met for about two years.

According to Ronda, “We started a new group in Lahaina and plenty of referrals showed up. In reaching out to the community, we were overjoyed to receive a lot of support and encouragement.

“We both were musicians in school. I was a first-chair flutist from a musical family, and Reuben played saxophone but loved the ukulele. He never put it down. Nowadays, we study music together, which prepares us for the kids’ endless questions. They challenge us to be correct. So there’s rhythm practice as well as theory (written music), and playing by ear.”

Last week, MMM announced an expanded schedule. Beginning Aug. 3, keiki ukulele lessons are held on Mondays at 2 and 2:30 p.m. at Kamehameha Iki Park next to 505 Front Street. All levels are welcome.

Free weekly classes are held Tuesdays at the Boys and Girls Club of West Maui. Children must be members to participate.

Keiki ukulele lessons are offered on Wednesdays at 1:30 and 2 p.m. at the Na ‘Aikane o Maui Cultural Center at 562-A Front St.

And on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. at the Na ‘Aikane o Maui Cultural Center, keiki chorus singing lessons are held. For more information, call 463-7856.

MMM performs for kupuna at Thanksgiving and Lahaina Cannery Mall before Christmas. This year, the couple wants to perform at the University of Hawaii, participate in the Youth Ukulele Players Contest in Kaanapali and attend the Maui Ukulele Festival as a group.

Advanced players are preparing themselves for small venue performances such as dinner parties, restaurants or events.

“We hope to add more classes and more variety to our program in the future,” she explained. “Singers should call right away, so we can possibly get a choir started. There’s a lot of interest in singing and dancing, which is awesome.

“We will accept donations of good usable equipment and instruments of all kinds, especially ukuleles. The mission is growing, which will afford us a studio of our own in no time. Families are encouraged to be involved also, so bring your music skills along – or not – and be of help! We all have something to learn by listening.”

She said that passing on music is the realization of Reuben’s dream. The couple shares the same vision.

“It is a beautiful thing to see the light in a young person’s eyes as they capture bits and pieces of their own potential. That’s why we delight in sharing our experience with the keiki,” she noted.

In developing the business plan for MMM, Ronda found that there are no music teachers at the elementary school level.

“So, as I looked at the scope of Reuben’s vision, it was clear that his dream had found its time. With a lifetime of playing the Hawaiian ukulele, teaching and performing around West Maui, Reuben brings a passion to his teaching that is contagious. His excitement to pass on the ukulele tradition is what fuels the whole thing,” Ronda concluded.