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Feb 6, 2014

So you want to learn slack key? Here are the best places to start!

So you've been seduced by the sweet sound of Hawaiian slack-key guitar music, and as a do-it-yourselfer, you're looking to learn how to play.  Or maybe you're already a guitarist, looking to expand your repertoire. Either way, here are my three definitive slack-key resources:

#1. Ozzie Kotani's "Guitar Playing Hawaiian Style - Ki Ho‘alu Volume 1 & 2" DVDs

Ozzie Kotani's book, "Guitar Playing Hawaiian Style" is often regarded as the beginner's slack-key bible.  If you're like me though, you much prefer video to see and hear in real-time.  And if his book is the bible, his DVD's are the holy grail.

Ozzie presents clear, organized lessons, with a refined and encouraging teaching style.  His goal is to get you playing music quickly, while teaching fundamentals along the way.  Volume 1 had me playing within minutes (and is more than enough to get you going).

Volume 2 picks up from Volume 1 with much more emphasis on content--lessons move at a faster pace, but feature more songs, and venture into new tunings.


#2. Mark Nelson's Slack Key Lessons on jamplay.com

Another great series of video lessons.  Unlike Ozzie who grew up with slack-key in Hawaii, Mark brings a unique perspective to the table as mainlander who sought out learning to play later in life.

The earlier videos are little rough around the edges (and with every lesson comes a story), but become more focused as the lessons go along.

What's great about Mark's lessons is he covers a lot of Hawaiian standards that aren't in Ozzie's Vol 1 DVD, so when combined, you'll find yourself with a wide set list.

(There are a few songs that overlap with Vol 2, but you'll notice that Mark and Ozzie have very different styles and arrangements of playing the same song.  This gives you the best of both worlds!)

Quick tip: You can get a code for a free week of access to jamplay.com on Mark's site!

#3. The taropatch.net Forums

THE place to go for everything else--info, recommendations, answers to questions, or even people in your area looking to play!

Activity on the forum is a bit slow, but everyone is very friendly and willing to share.