In 1879, the Portuguese master craftsman and instrument maker Manuel Nunes arrived in the Hawaiian Islands with Joao Fernandes and Augustine Dias. They were immigrants who came to work in the sugar cane fields. Together they invented and developed the ukulele taking basic designs of instruments from their native home. Hawaiians were not only impressed with the beautiful sounds these instruments could make, but also with the speed these musicians’ fingers flew on the fingerboard. It is said, they in turn began calling this instrument the Ukulele, which roughly translates as “Jumping Fleas”. No matter what the real story behind the uke is, it became Hawaii’s most popular musical instrument and much is attributed to the above mentioned Portuguese master craftsmen. The ukulele received royal acclaim with nobles such as King Kalakaua, Queen Emma and Queen Lili’uokalani playing this wonderful instrument. Which in turn may have made it more accepted by the people of Hawaii. All who learned the art of the ukulele loved it, from fisherman and taro farmers to Kings and Queens. Today we are seeing Hawaii excellent example with its distinctive thin body with amazing tone. “My Dog Has Fleas” is being heard by yet another generation throughout Hawaii.
There is The Ukulele Festival here in Hawaii, which features many of the world’s finest players, there are schools such as Roy Sakuma’s Ukulele school with over 400 students and Mainland events from all over including Northern California’s Ukulele Festival and the Ukulele Expo in world This fun and lovable instrument seems to be here to stay. The Ukulele – it’s light, very portable and brings a smile to just about every person that hears its beautiful melodies.