Instruments of Hope

Instruments of Hope

A project that began as an exploration of sound waves turned into a life lesson on serving others.

Academy physics students have been hard at work in the D. Kenneth Richardson ’48 Learning Lab this semester building ‘ukulele to learn more about sound wave propagation. The completed ‘ukulele are being donated to the ‘Ukulele Kids Club, a nonprofit organization that gives the instruments to hospitalized children for music therapy.

David Blake, a member of the UKC advisory board, visited Punahou on May 23 to speak to the students about the impact their gift will have. “This is about helping children,” he said. “What you have created are vehicles to bring joy to people.”

The project made extensive use of resources in the Richardson Learning Lab. Students fabricated jigs to bend the wood for the ‘ukulele body siding; cut the tops, backs and inner bracing with the laser cutter; used the water jet and computer numeric controlled machine to carve the necks; and crafted nuts and bridges with 3-D printers.

Some students even etched artistic designs on the body by using the laser cutter on a low power setting. Strings were donated by Ukulele Puapua, an ‘ukulele shop located in the Sheraton Waikiki hotel.

The students were reminded by Blake that despite being strung, tuned and ready to play, the journey of each instrument is just beginning.

“This isn’t the end of this project, it is the first step in a progression of wonderful events,” said Blake. “You are providing instruments that will be shared with people who you don’t know yet, that will help them find joy, spread aloha and make their lives a little easier.”

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