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Mana Mele: Hawaiian Multi-Media Education

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Inside the Meleana Airstream studio, students are mentored by recording industry professionals. When Meleana is rented out for luau, corporate events, or parties, learning continues on the job.

  Fifteen years ago, the Mana Maoli non-profit started H?lau K? Mana charter school in Honolulu, with specialized programs in voyaging and music.  The music component, called the Mana Mele Project has grown now to encompass a music and multimedia curriculum, plus a mobile recording studio!  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports on the premiere of their “Hawai'i Aloha” video and Mana Mele Festival set for tonight. 

Celebrate tonight at Makers and Tasters in Kaka‘ako,  5pm to midnight with food trucks and Mana Mele musicians.  Tickets ($10) to tonight's (4/22) concert are available at the Mana Maoli website, with deals on Mana Mele’s Kickstarter page.

Here’s the challenge: getting Hawai‘i’s diverse student population graduation and career ready, in a way that plays to their interests.  A tall order, but KeolaNakanishi of the non-profit Mana Maoli has been creating a standard curriculum based on music and multi-media for the last fifteen years.

“We’ve developed over one hundred thirty lessons that teach language arts, math, science, and social studies through music and multi-media.”

Twelve year old M?lie, one of the Mana Mele students, says there’s a lot of math in music.

“When you hit a certain pitch when you sing, the sound waves get smaller every time you go higher.  And when you’re tuning your instrument with a tuner, it goes by four hundred forty hertz, that’s what your ear can hear.”

Nakanishi says the Music and Multi-Media Academy aims to bring the arts back into the schools as a means to teach required academics.  He claims this approach could appeal to students with different learning styles and have broad collateral benefits.

“Because when they learn how to relate and communicate with people, how to create a budget on a spread sheet, how to use social media for outreach and PR, these are all skills that are transferrable.”  Nakanishi points out that audio/video production skills are useful to businesses of all kinds, both internally and for marketing.

M?lie says she and her fellow students look forward to visits by Kumu Nakana from Mana Mele.  She says her school is really into singing and the students rush him for ukuleles to play during the jam session.  Recently, Kumu Nakana helped the students record themselves in Meleana, the new solar powered mobile production studio which will be debuted today, April 22nd, 2016, at the Mana Mele Festival.

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Mana Mele Festival Planning committee (l-r) Rhesa Schubert, Aubrey Matsuura, Mike Galmiche, Sarah May Vincent, Keola Nakanishi, Jessica Kihara, Doug Allsopp, and Kelli Cruz.

  Mana Mele involves ten public charter schools who benefit from the music/multimedia curriculum.  Top local musicians and recording industry professionals serve as mentors.  Meleana offers live event services plus mobile recording capability for rent to the public.  Corporate events, baby l?‘au, concerts, birthday parties, Meleana can provide power and sound, plus recording and production services.

If you want an example of the recording quality and the musicians involved in this project, you can hear Jack Johnson and Paula Fuga with one of their Mana Mele recordings in the story.  Kimie and the Love are featured in the track that opens this story.

“We tried to choose a small arsenal of really great gear.”  Kelli Cruz is project lead engineer, she designed the Meleana studio.  “When you walk in the roof is curved, it’s inside an Airstream trailer.  So I want it to feel really warm and inviting, and calm.”

At tonight’s premiere party, Ledward Kaapana, John Cruz, Kimie, and Kuana Torres Kahele all play in a new “Playing for Change”-style video of “Hawai‘i Aloha”. 

“The most waiwai, waiwai as in valuable, what’s the most valuable but least profitable is archiving our leo k?puna, the voices of our k?puna before it’s too late.  That alone would be worth over fifteen years and counting of a lot of blood sweat and tears across many instructors, mentors, staff and volunteers.”

Mana Mele’s Kickstarter campaign ends Sunday.  

https://www.facebook.com/ManaMaoliCollective

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Meleana, Hawai'i's first solar powered mobile audio/video studio and learning lab.

Noe Tanigawa covers art, culture and ideas for Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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