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With an extended ‘ohana of devoted artists, scholars and supporters, the Beamer family believes that here at Keauhou students can feel Hawaii’s ancient family Luthier Dennis Lake helps students complete their own ‘ukulele in just one week, using a cigar tree, both roots and branches, box as the body – Photo by Karen Valentine and carry the ❁Continued from page 57 story forward. Mohala Hou, meaning Hawai‘i’s “new blossoming,” is the name chosen a decade ago for the Beamers’ non-profit foundation, which offers scholarships and programs for youth-at-risk and others who want to immerse themselves in island culture at Aloha Music Camp. “We’re really grateful, says Keola. “I mean, like the Reverend Dennis Kamakahi, [also a kumu at the camp], we all came from the guitar world, and at one time we were afraid this would die out completely. As a culture, we were holding the information so tightly so all the tunings were secret. A family passed them down from father to son. It was so hard to learn. There was no written material.” That changed when Keola, at the age of 19, wrote the first method book on Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, based on a 16th century tablature system for the lute. All this, to “keep aloha alive,” says Keola. “Mālama ko aloha.”

Monday: Pō‘akahi (poh ah-kah-hee)

Away from the hum of modernity, on the slopes of Hualalai volcano, turning down the din of surface noise and turning up the volume on the ancient calming breath, the breath of the long ha. The Ma-Ha-lo. Gratitude. Luthier Dennis Lake is offering “Build Your Own Pineapple Ukulele” in the coconut grove. Then Kumu Kapono’ai Molitau is helping a dozen students meld two gourds to make custom ipu heke that will accompany the voices in his oli class. Under the soaring white tent in the Royal Gardens, the subject today, like every day, is love and melody, love and texture, love and tempo.

Tuesday: Pō‘alua (po ah-loo-a)

Even though the lesson is hula, the class is making lei. And even though Moanalani Beamer began hula training at the age of four with Kumu Hula Johnny Hokoana and later starred in Maui’s prestigious hotel shows, her guiding influence was Auntie Nona, her beloved mother-in-law. “Today’s project is really small,” she says, her mellow brown eyes smiling. “We know the numbers of fern tips needed for haku lei, and we pick only those.” Leading dancers in the fundamental preparation for hula, connecting with nature, the search for natural lei materials must be conscious. At a ti plant, she says, “Don’t pick it clean. Leaving behind stuff is okay. Not everything is for you. If you’re a hoarder, no.”

September-October 2011  
September-October 2011