Nanakuli youngsters learn a 4-stringed instrument that isn’t the ukulele

Nanakuli youngsters learn a 4-stringed instrument that isn’t the ukulele
Youth at the Boys & Girls Club's Nanakuli clubhouse are learning to play the violin. The partnership with the Hawaii Youth Symphony is HYS's first classical music program on the Leeward coast. (Source: Courtesy: Chad Brown)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Wednesday afternoons, music fills the Boys & Girls Club in Nanakuli.

Youngsters are learning to play a four-stringed instrument ― and it isn’t the ukulele.

"The violin was something that we wanted to bring to the West Side," said Claudia "Lala" Fernandez.

As director of operations for the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, Fernandez partnered with the Hawaii Youth Symphomy to bring music instructors and instruments to the Nanakuli clubhouse.

“It’s not often that our elementary youth along our coast line gets to experience orchestra music,” she said.

The weekly violin class is HYS's first classical music program on the Leeward Coast.

“To see the joy on their faces when they hear an instrument or they see it, they get to hold it and touch it. They’re like, ‘Wow!’ It’s so cool because violins are cool," HYS president Randy Wong said.

About 20 kids, grades 2 to 6, immediately signed up when violin lessons started in September. The benefits have extended beyond music.

"It's making them do well academically in school, also in their social well-being when they're here in the club," Fernandez said.

HYS is using a grant from Carnegie Hall to increase children’s access to classical music and music education. Statewide, about 750 kids participate in the youth symphony’s orchestra programs and jazz bands in Clubhouse classes.

"We've just been thinking a lot about what can we do to make music a right and not a privilege. That's our vision and that's our aspiration," Wong said.

The plan is to slowly introduce other instruments into Nanakuli's music program.

"I'm hoping one day our Nanakuli clubhouse will have a symphony band or orchestra where they're able to go out and perform in partnership with Hawaii Youth Symphony at different events throughout the community," Fernandez said.

Next month, the student violinists will perform for their parents. And someday, they could be playing on a much bigger stage.

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