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Maui Music Mission growing with help from the community

By Staff | Dec 21, 2017

Maui Music Mission student Kaliko Teruya, 7, performed her original song, "Me and the Ocean," at the Hula Grill Keiki Ukulele Contest in October.

LAHAINA – Maui Music Mission’s advanced performance crew recently hosted a benefit concert featuring the eight-piece jazz ensemble Soul Kitchen and Hawaiian music by Kuaola to raise awareness and funding for their ukulele orchestra.

Over $1,100 was raised for seven members of the group, who are preparing to travel to Anaheim, California, to compete at the Heritage Music Festival on March 8-11, 2018.

This is their first competition, and they will be representing all of Hawaii in a national youth music event.

The ukulele orchestra evolved from After School Music Club students who challenge themselves beyond the normal expectations.

Students in this tuition-free group are able to focus on the intricate dynamics of their music while adding accompaniment from other instruments like piano, violin and percussion. Their arrangements also include instrumental and vocal leads with harmony.

Maui Music Mission was established on Jan. 1, 2015, by Reuben and Ronda Pali. They brought their ukuleles and some lauhala mats to Kamehameha Iki Park and invited keiki for a $10 lesson.

The opportunity arose since both were displaced from their ordinary work due to injury and illness. Reuben, a Native Hawaiian, had been hit by a car while riding his bicycle and could no longer work in construction.

His wife, Ronda, is a classically trained musician. She left a career as a salon owner when fibromyalgia made the work too difficult.

Their vision of reviving the cultural tradition of mele for the youth of Lahaina has evolved quickly, as the community has expressed a high demand for keiki music programs.

Music is proven to lift individuals and whole communities out of poverty. That is what fuels their mission of “inspiring hope through music.”

“We believe that a dream fulfilled is a tree of life, and that we are called to ‘stand in the gap,’ so that everyone can have equal access to the opportunity to learn music,” Reuben said.

After School Music Club provides a safe, structured environment for the enrichment and education of Lahaina’s keiki after school.

Each ten-week session includes 60 hours of instruction for just $325. A carpool is offered for a small additional fee, which transports keiki from each Lahaina school to MMM’s facility at 930 Wainee St.

“Since most of our students need a ride after school, we consider the carpool to be a critical piece of the mission,” he added.

After School Music Club is a low-cost music education program for five- to 12-year-olds. Students attend two classes per day, twice per week, and have rehearsals every Friday. They study ukulele and piano with voice and music theory incorporated. Violin is offered weekly as a free elective, and those who excel are invited to join symphony with Ana Kalina of Maui Chamber Orchestra.

Students of the music mission have performed at many venues, including The Outlets of Maui, Lahaina Cannery Mall, Iao Theater Mezzanine, Sacred Hearts Bazaar, Lahaina Second Friday Town Party, Kaunoa Senior Center, Lahaina Shores Beach Resort, Lahaina Christian Fellowship, Lahaina Surf, Front Street Apartments and the Aloha Ballroom. This year, they also performed at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort on Dec. 18.

The group performs on- stage at The Outlets of Maui every first and third Friday at 5 p.m.

Maui Music Mission is a registered Single-Member LLC. It is not a 501(c)(3) due to lack of administration.

“We are able to provide tax-deductible receipts for certain projects because of the generosity of our sponsors,” Reuben explained.

Financial support comes from a combination of dues, donations and fundraising.

Goals for expansion include the acquisition of a 15-passenger vehicle, needed to transport keiki after school as well as to performances and special educational events. New and expanded programs – such as Homeschool Ensemble, Preschool, and Community Band – are also being developed.

Beginner classes for teens and adults are now starting in the evenings from 5 to 6 p.m., with guitar on Mondays and Wednesdays. Ukulele and piano group classes start in January; gift certificates are available.

Now located at 930 Wainee St. with three dedicated classrooms, students are excelling in many areas, including identifying patterns and artistic elements, confidence, the ability to address an audience and the technical knowledge to play multiple instruments.

The community can support Maui Music Mission by bringing Christmas gifts to be wrapped at The Outlets of Maui. The “Pop-up Christmas Shop” includes free gift-wrapping by donation, bake sale with concessions, stocking stuffers, musical instruments and equipment for sale, and daily performances by MMM students. Visit www.mauimusicmission.com for more information.

Maui Music Mission especially thanks these businesses for providing shelter and support: Na Aikane O Maui, The Salvation Army, Lahaina Baptist Church, Lahaina Christian Fellowship, Kumulani Chapel and The Outlets of Maui.

The following individuals and businesses have provided ongoing support and assistance at little or no cost to the mission: Ana Kalina, Tracey Bloser, Sule Gordon, Augustine Costantino, Paul Martin, Carol Jung, Kalei Jaramillo and Aushalyn Haia.

Volunteers who have made an impact in the classroom, at events and with administration and carpooling include Alexis Horton, Petrina Castillio, Arika Rains, Rena Pali, CJ Casco, Ben and Jen Aquino, Krim Kenolio, Gretchen Losano, Scott and Ashley Carroll, Sally Nespor, Heather Lombardi, Char Yamada, Sheldon Valencia and Neal Somers.

Community sponsors include Chimes, Maui Surfboards, Maika’i Woods, Sophia DeLoria Foundation, What A Voice Studio, Akamai Business Center, King Kamehameha Golf Course, Lahaina News, Na Aikane O Maui, The Salvation Army, Lahaina Baptist Church, Lahaina Christian Fellowship, Kumulani Chapel, Smokehouse Grill, Aloha Malasadas, Round Table, Fleetwood’s on Front St., Frieda’s, Casa Maya, The Sheraton Maui, The Bakery, The Sugar Shop, Hula Grill, LahainaTown Action Committee and Kahana Sunset.