Mahalo to Ukulele Virtuoso Ben Ahn

Hawaiian musician Ben Ahn recently made a return visit to ASIJ and spent a week working with our elementary school music teachers and their classes. Ben taught students the art of ukulele and gave a special community performance as part of Spirit Week. Karolee Kent (elementary school teacher) writes on Ben Ahn’s visit. 

Thanks to generous funding from the Chofu PTA, our elementary school music program was able to bring Ben Ahn, a professional ukulele musician, teacher and performer, to ASIJ for the last week of September. This is his second visit to campus, after his first PTA-sponsored trip in 2012.

Ben captivated all elementary school students with demonstrations of a wide variety of performance techniques and genres of music, and he assisted our third, fourth and fifth-graders in becoming ukulele performers who are able to “pick” melodies, strum accompaniments and create music on an instrument while singing at the same time.

Ben’s engaging personality, his genuine love of children and his abiding interest in all things musical made this an experience not to be soon forgotten.

Kim’s Dream, by Evie (Grade 4)

One student was so impacted by Ben’s visit that, for a later creative writing assignment, she wrote a story about a ukulele-playing panda who goes on tour with Ben Ahn.

Ben capped his week by performing a community concert for all in the multi-purpose room. He even encouraged a couple of teachers and, in a great display of courage, one fifth-grade student joined him in his performance!

On the visit, elementary music teacher, Judy Fuller writes, “Ben was such a fine performer, fellow and person who made instant rapport with the students, that we wanted him back again.” She goes on to note that, since Ben’s visit, several students have asked, “when is he coming back?”

Ben’s visit enabled our elementary school students to create, perform and take risks in a high-interest and enjoyable setting while developing confidence in their abilities and a sharing a feeling of spirit and soul in the classroom. It was a fantastic experience for all involved.