Jake Inspiring Hawai’i Youth

Probably the hardest working ‘ukulele player out there, Jake Shimabukuro is keeping the second half of 2015 music filled. In theme with his recent release Travels, Jake has been keeping busy traveling from the west coast to the UK promoting his new album. In between the flurry of traveling, Jake has taken the time to do what not all musicians would do amidst a major release: work with students at Kalihi Kai Elementary School on the island of O’ahu.

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Earlier this year Jake Shimabukuro started working with Turnaround Arts, a national organization that uses the arts to create success in struggling, high-poverty elementary and middle schools across the country. Alongside Hawai’i program directors Rae Takemoto and Lei Ahsing, Jake has been working with Kalihi Kai Elementary to bring his talents to all of the children and staff, and especially the after school ‘ukulele club. Comprised of mostly 4th and 5th-grade students, the Kalihi Kai youth got to listen to Jake play and talk about his experience as a musician. After Jake’s first visit the after school the ‘ukulele club tripled in size. While on tour, Jake periodically sent videos to the students to keep them motivated and excited to practice.

Superintendent Matayoshi, Jack Johnson, First Lady Ige, Senator Hirono, Alfre Woodard, and Jake Shimabukuro at the Turnaround Arts Hawai’i Launch

With a few songs under their belts, the students were

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Bruce with the kids backstage

invited to join Jake on stage for his annual Jake Shimabukuro and Friends Concert at the Hawai’i Theatre. Playing a few songs, the children got to experience of performing at a quality theatre and all the nerves that go with it. Bruce joined Jake on the day of the performance for his soundcheck. He helped settle the anxiousness and offer last gems of advice before hitting the stage. Excited and stoked, the children charged the stage.


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Jake prepping the kids before they take the stage.


I can speak from experience on just how effective having visiting artists in the schools is to students. As a young ‘ukulele player I remember when Jake came to our middle school and invited a few of us to perform on stage with him. It was one of those defining moments to me as a player because I then understood the potential of the instrument with a lot more depth. An inspiration that still strikes a chord with me today (pun intended).

Not to mention the experience! A truly great way to get hooked to ‘ukulele, the idea of sharing music and just how much joy there is in creating sounds with others. I am sure I would still enjoy it just as much as I did when I was 10 years old. I can only imagine how inspired these Kalihi Kai students feel this week!

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Jake will be performing with the club for the Kalihi Kai Winter Festival tomorrow evening at the school!

-Neal Chin


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