I hope you’ve enjoyed your tenure as one of my haumāna (students). If you’ve come this far with me, then you’ve experienced the joy of making the music. It is one thing to hear recordings, to follow the notes and appreciate their beauty, but it is a far more evocative experience to make the music with your own hands. I believe that you know what I mean, for you’ve felt the instrument vibrate against your own body, even as you opened your heart to a new way of playing the guitar, a new way of conceptualizing guitar music.

In our study of this unique art form, we soon realize that we need to let go of ourselves a little bit. It takes courage to do this. It takes courage to travel this way, to float the “mana” or spirit that is you within the either of that music. What will happen? Where will we end up? What is this longing we begin to feel in our hearts when we connect to this wonderful world?

To be honest, I came from a generation of musicians that almost lost our way. We were hoarding what little information we had. The tunings were secret, there were no recordings being made, no new blood coming into the form and no way to hear anybody play. In fact, if you weren’t an immediate family member of one of the players, you were just plain out of luck.

These were dark times in my life. Kī Hōʻalu was dying.

If you’ve ever had the experience of something you really, really love – dying in front of you, well … it changes you.

Some of us became convinced that in order for the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar to survive and continue into the next generation, we had to change the way we looked at the world. We had to hold the music we loved with an open hand. What a splendid irony. In order to keep Kī Hōʻalu alive, we had to let it go. Furthermore, we had to do it in a way that was “pono” with our culture and in a way that would be blessed by our kūpuna (elders). I wrote a short story about my discovery of Kī Hōʻalu and my philosophy of “open hands” in regards to the perpetuation of the art form, it is entitled Hawanawana – The Whispering

If you are still open to this journey, there is much more to learn – more great music to experience and many more mysteries to contemplate. I invite you to join our group as we make this journey. You’ll find some kindred souls out there, at our workshops and performances and you’ll meet new friends who walk on the slack side of the beat.

There are quality resources and study materials that I have prepared for you on this website that myself and my partners have worked hard to make informative and user friendly.

If you are comfortable with what you have accomplished so far, its time to move forward to some intermediate pieces. Go to the piece “Pupu Hinuhinu” on the beginning realm and learn to play it, then move over to intermediate realm and select a piece. Take it easy. Don’t rush, enjoy the music and take time to explore the aloha in your own unique musical voice.

Mahalo (Thank You)




Maui, Hawaiʻi

NEXT: Pupu Hinuhinu