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Ukulele Virtuoso Proves that Music is Good Medicine

Jake Shimabukuro directs a non-profit that uses the power of music to heal, influence, and inspire people in his home state of Hawaii.

“Music is Good Medicine" (MIGM) began in 1998 as a promotional marketing concept for a large physician organization in Hawaii. The organization had a campaign to promote its name and physicians in the community and music was identified as a vehicle that could reach out to all.

The concept eventually grew into a community outreach program committed to promoting good health. MIGM’s outreach efforts include performances and events at elementary, middle and high schools, senior centers, shopping malls, health fairs, and education seminars.

Ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro was introduced to MIGM through community performances given by a local ensemble of which he was a member. He took an immediate interest in the concept and became a spokesperson for the program, delivering the message that people really should pay attention to living healthily everyday.

Jake says, “the Music Is Good Medicine program believes that being directly involved in the creation of music is the key to a healthy lifestyle. All you have to do is take a moment to sit with your instrument and work your way through a few chords or a favorite song. Believe me, after a long, stressful day, that little practice session will have amazing therapeutic benefits!”

In 2004 the medical group who created MIGM stopped supporting the concept, and the official organization ceased to exist. Jake, now passionate about the program, continued to carry forth its mission by visiting schools and senior centers independently. After a few years Jake decided to revive the program under Toastman Inc. In January of 2009, Jake began to create the official Music is Good Medicine organization, and is currently working on taking its mission to the next level.

“My belief that “music is good medicine” goes all the way back to my childhood. Ever since my mother first put a ukulele in my hands at the age of 4, this magical instrument has been a positive force in my life, helping to steer me away from drugs, violence and other negative influences. It fueled my passion for music, which has helped me to develop in mind, body and spirit.”