One of the best aspects of my job is getting to talk to musicians from a variety of backgrounds. Recently, I spoke with Anthony Pfluke, Hawaiian musician from Maui. (He is finally old enough to vote!) I met Anthony several years ago at a quaint one-room church that hosted a weekly ‘ukulele jam session called “808 Jams.”
When I caught up with Anthony this time, we talked about his childhood and performing. His mother taught him how to play the piano when he was young but he was not too interested. Still, he continued to learn and got the basics down. Through these piano lessons, Anthony also developed the ability to play by ear.
Years later, when Anthony was 10 years old, his parents heard about “808 Jams” and decided to check it out. They only had one ‘ukulele between the three of them, so they had to borrow ‘ukuleles when they arrived. After that first session, however, Anthony’s interest caught on. He kept coming back, and three months later, he wrote his first song. Since then, he has performed internationally and released two albums.
"“I’ve hit plenty of wrong notes.
What comes after that when you find the right notes–
it’s the journey that is really beautiful.”
– Anthony Pfluke"
What I love about Anthony’s story is that his parents supported his music-making in a way that I would like to call gently and musically supportive. “Less is more,” explained Anthony. “My parents really took a step back. They didn’t really put their two cents in. I wasn’t thinking from an early age that this is good or this is bad.” Anthony’s parents had already provided a musically environment when he was young, and the weekly 808 Jams communal music-making infused Anthony’s world with Hawaiian music, which he now “speaks” fluently through his Hawaiian vocal, slack-key guitar, and ‘ukulele music. That’s great advice for all parents: enrich your child’s environment with a lot of music when they are young, and let the child have more and more say in their music-making as they grow.
When I asked Anthony if he has any advice for young musicians, he emphasized the importance of being present and embracing mistakes. “When the flow is there, and you are receiving this gift and sharing it and not worrying about wrong notes or mistakes, it’s a big feeling. I’ve hit plenty of wrong notes. What comes after that when you find the right notes–it’s the journey that is really beautiful. People don’t want to see a perfect performance. They want to feel the spirit that is behind that.”
Mahalo, Anthony, for your reminders about savoring the journey and enjoying the music. What a privilege it has been to listen to your music and hear your wisdom.
Anthony’s website is www.AnthonyPfluke.com