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THE DAY I TOOK MY UKE TO LUNCH . . . . How I began my lifelong friendship with the Ukulele . . . . a true story by “UKULELE MIKE”

July 12, 2011

PLEASE NOTE:  My “UKULELE BASICS” DVD is currently  available for purchase. . . For more information email me at


One day many years ago, upon leaving my music room and heading for the faculty lunchroom I met up with my principal in the school hall.  I had in my hand my ever present uke. . . She said rather off handedly  “Mike, did you know my grandfather invented the ukulele?”  I stood there in silence for what seemed forever. . . In my mind I guess I always thought the ukulele just existed . . . not something that was invented and on top of that this lady was of portuguese desent not obviously “Hawaiian” (shows my total lack of knowledge about Hawaiian history). . . By the way her name was Mildred Nunes. . . So I responded. . . “Seriously?  your grandfather invented the uke?”  Yep, then she followed up with “do you know that I’m of portuguese ancestry?”  Now, I knew she was born and raised in Hawaii but never really stopped to consider her ancestry.  I said no. . . then she replied “well my grandfather came to Hawaii in the late 1800s and when he arrived he invented the ukulele”. . . I was dumbfounded, of course.  I had no idea . . . I thought perhaps she’s just stretching the truth a bit? She didn’t elaborate on the story  so upon arriving home I immediately  went to do some research on the subject and discovered that sure enough one Manuel NUNES  came from Portugal to the shores of Hawaii in the late 1800’s bringing with him a small 4 string guitar the Cavaquinho that was a traditional instrument of Portugal and that he not only played it  but being a cabinet maker  he could also build them. . . And from there it all started. . . Now in his day he would publicize himself as the “INVENTOR” of the ukulele. . . It was a great sales gimmick and worked, but in truth he didn’t REALLY invent it but he surely helped to popularize it . . . Making instruments for the Queen of Hawaii herself. . . In fact, once she played it all the islanders wanted one as well.  Now, knowing the back story and seeing how I kinda fit into the legacy. . . teaching under Manuel Nunes’ granddaughter. . . It only seemed right that I should begin to introduce it to my students and eventually it became a core element in my music curriculum at the school.  Since that day I’ve taught over 400 young people to play the uke and all because I took my uke to lunch.

AN ADDENDUM: Of course, over the years that number increased tremendously and while teaching there I got the inspiration to open up a YOU TUBE account. I uploaded various lessons initially just for my classroom music students. Little did I totally understand the unique power of the internet. Within a very short time my little classroom became a global classroom. Thank you, Mildred Nunes, for inspiring me and supporting my efforts to build the Ukulele program at our school. 


Mike Lynch

Beginners Ukulele DVD combo pak available for purchase . . . Includes a full companion eBook. .

$30.00 plus $3.00 shipping in the US $7.00 shipping outside the US . Make payment through the paypal donate button on the Ukulele Mike website: The companion book will be emailed to you within the date of purchase and your DVD will be shipped to you right away.

Questions regarding any Ukulele resource please email 

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