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Ukulele Ohana

by Greg Shea

The ukulele is a stringed instrument usually associated with the music of Hawaii and originated as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument. Ukes come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The word ohana in Hawaiian means family and, when used by Mike Young, emphasizes that families are bound together, help each other, and remember each other. This is the ohana culture that he develops while teaching the fundamental techniques of playing the ukulele here at OLLI. Mike provides a solid foundation, which works with any type of ukulele.
Carol Baker and Nancy Intriere assist Mike by helping each student to develop strumming, finger picking, and rhythm techniques over a variety of musical styles. They make sure the whole “family” is involved and having fun too.

The Ukelele Ohana is well organized and has an affable and easy-going island style that has made this one of OLLI’s most popular classes. Mike’s enthusiasm and warmth encourage the beginner and the seasoned musician alike. The lessons are designed to appeal to a wide range of musicians, and the variety of songs keeps everyone smiling. Students will enjoy group strums and sing-alongs in class as well as opportunities to collaborate with other OLLI classes in jam sessions.

When I asked Mike what he enjoyed most about teaching the class, he smiled broadly and replied, “I love helping people learn to master the instrument and seeing the smile on their faces when they play a song well. We begin to resonate with each other on a personal level after resonating on a musical one. We are ohana. We are family.”


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CSULB
Building HS&D, Rooms 100 & 101
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840-5609
Phone: 562-985-8237 Fax: 562-985-8213
Web site:


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