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Hawaii Aloha
Lorenzo Lyons
Iz Kamakawiwo'ole performs Hawaii Aloha. Play video.

Download free score (PDF):
Key of F (C6 tuning: g, c, e, a)
Key of G (D6 tuning: a, d, f#, b)

Listen to an audio sample (MP3):
The Rose Ensemble

Read a translation:
Hawaii Aloha on Wikipedia

Hawaii Aloha, written by Christian minister Lorenzo Lyons (d. 1886), is the much-adored "unofficial anthem" of Hawaii. It is sung in the streets, at private gatherings, at public events, and even at the opening sessions of the Hawaii State House of Representatives and Hawaii State Senate.

When you travel to Hawaii you may find yourself participating in a performance of this beautiful song. Singers join hands in a circle and gently sway to the melody. In the final measures of the piece, all participants raise their hands above their heads. It is a moving and meaningful ritual for native Hawaiians, Hawaii residents, and tourists alike.

Hawaii Aloha: Teaching Notes

Focus On:

  1. Posture and breath support
  2. Ear training
  3. Extended chords (see Pedagogy Corner)

Key Points:

  • Hawaiian is a beautiful language full of fun-to-sing vowels. Vowels in Hawaiian are pronounced like this:

    a = ah (as in “above”)
    e = eh (as in “bet”)
    i = ee (as in “bee”)
    o = oh (as in “okay”)
    u = oo (as in “cool”)

  • Here's a quick way to get good singing posture from your students: "sit on the edge of your chair as if you were about to jump up and touch the ceiling." Your students will sit with their feet flat on the floor and with their backs off their chairs.

  • Have your students say the words in rhythm before they sing. Then, sing the melody to the syllable "loo," "la," or "lay." Finally, sing the melody to the Hawaiian words as printed.

  • Suggested arrangement:
    • Intro: vamp (strum for a few measures) on the first chord. Begin singing on cue from teacher/leader.
    • Sing once through the melody as printed
    • Instrumental: have some students pick and others strum for measures 1-15.
    • Sing the chorus
    • Tag: repeat the last line "Mau ke aloha..." to finish

  • Hawaiian language pop-quiz: What do the Hawaiian words "`uku" and "lele" mean? Answers: `uku (pronounced "oo-koo") means "flea"; "lele" (pronounced "lay-lay") means "jumping."

Additional Suggestions and Comments:

  • It's customary to add an "echo" of the melody in measures 21-24. Refer to this audio sample for clarification.

  • Challenge all students to observe the phrasing of the melody, i.e. "breathe only in the rests."

  • Challenge your advanced students to create and sing a harmony part above the melody.

If you like the material in this free lesson you might also like Ukulele in the Classroom, a series of ukulele method books by James Hill and J. Chalmers Doane. Click here for free samples and additional information.