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Maui Music Mission expanding its team and music programs

By Staff | Nov 5, 2015


LAHAINA – Ask anyone how music has inspired hope in them, and you will know what inspired Maui Music Mission to place keiki music programs in West Maui.

The answers you get will reveal a myriad of emotions. There will be joy, tears and tears of joy relived. Studies have proven beyond a doubt that just listening to music can wake up our brains by an enormous level, and that playing instruments and reading music do stimulate brain activity like nothing else can. Even patients suffering with dementia can have lucid moments while listening to nostalgic music through headphones.

Yet music programs have been cut from our schools. A full-time credentialed music teacher at a public grade school is unheard of today, and by middle school music is an elective. The truth is, many of our community’s keiki aren’t getting any introduction to music at all.

So, when Reuben and Ronda Pali founded Maui Music Mission, it was with the belief that every kid in Hawaii should have the opportunity to learn to play the ukulele and experience the freedom that comes from expressing the soul through music.

“We visualize a place where kids can come spend their free time ‘jammin’ and gain an understanding of music that can be transferred to any instrument, and any genre, beginning with the Hawaiian ukulele,” she said.


Most importantly, lessons have to be affordable for families. Professional music lessons can be cost-prohibitive, even a luxury, but it should not be this way, according to the couple.

“Music is fundamental knowledge that everyone should have access to. That is why our teachers volunteer so much of their time to making this ‘mission’ successful,” Reuben said.

The team now includes:

Director Reuben Pali (ukulele) – Reuben’s fire lit this mission. He has a lifetime of experience playing ukulele in Lahaina Town. You see him every December serenading shoppers in front of Safeway for The Salvation Army’s kettle drive.

Ronda Pali (ukulele, piano, voice, flute) – Classically trained from age 8-15 on flute and voice, Ronda has learned to play piano and ukulele as an adult, proving that it is never too late to pick it up again. Ronda is also the office manager for MMM.

Maui Music Mission offers ukulele lessons for keiki of all levels.

Ana Kalina (violin, cello, piano, ukulele, voice, dance) – Ana has experience with Maui Pops, Maui Masterworks, Maui Choral Arts, and Maui Chamber Orchestras. She is passionate about passing the gift of music on to younger generations. She holds a Master’s Degree in Family and Marital Therapy, using the inspiration of music to help families heal.

Tracey Bloser (voice, piano) – Involved with Maui Choral Arts, Tracey earned her Master of Music, Voice Degree from the University of Hartford, Connecticut. She has an extensive background in musical theatre and stage production. Tracey has dreamed of building a keiki choir to share in the fulfilment of teaching a large group to harmonize.

James Baiano (Brazilian percussion) – James (Kimo) teaches rhythm in a way that really gets the kids shakin’! He teaches them to build their own instruments and believes that music makes our lives better.

There is also Augie (drums, percussion), Bruce (guitar) and Liz (bass) backing up the keiki at their shows. Private lessons are available from each of these musicians.

Maui Surfboards, Maikai Woods, The Salvation Army, Na ‘Aikane o Maui, Ululani’s, Hard Rock Caf, Prison St. Pizza, The Outlets of Maui, Akamai Business Center and private individuals have donated equipment, gifts and use of facilities to sponsor the mission.

Keiki who receive the opportunity and instruction can gain a lot of advantage in their creative, emotional and analytical realms through music, according to MMM, and it leads to better overall learning. Students teach and learn from each other in a cooperative mode, uplifting and inspiring one another.

At MMM, beginning ukulele students learn to strum four or more chords, pick a melody, play a “C” scale, and count rhythm, as well as how to hold their instrument, name its parts and proper care.

Intermediates are challenged with complex strumming, chord changes picking leads, introduction to dynamics and basic theory. They learn how to play any song they want and to write their own music.

Performance level students use electric and acoustic instrumentation with microphones and sound system. They can describe key families and transpose chords as needed. This group meets for one additional hour of rehearsal each week and must understand enough theory to comprehend sheet music. They present their skills on a variety of arrangements and instruments and perform regularly at local venues.

The program “Voice – Everybody Sing!” is offered for keiki ages 5-15. Learn fun vocal exercises, favorite songs and carols. MMM is now holding registration for Winter Chorus. This seasonal group is kicking off its first year with seven weeks of instruction, weekly performances and admission to “Christmas Bells,” a live choral event at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Currently, MMM is halfway to its goal of renting a dedicated facility. In the future, they hope to also provide scholarship tuition for students who qualify by income and their abilities.

For information, or to make a donation, visit www.facebook.com/mauimusicmission. Donations of musical instruments, equipment, office furnishings or other useable items can be made by calling Reuben at 463-7856.