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Ki Ho `alu, or slack key guitar, is a uniquely Hawaiian music. Legend has it that Spanish cowboys hired to teach cattle handling in the 1830's brought the first guitars the Polynesians had seen. Until very recently, slack key was almost unknown outside of the Islands.

Mark's lifelong interest in slack key led him to write "Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar" (Mel Bay Publications), with legendary Hawaiian musician Keola Beamer – the first widely available instruction method for this gentle art. Keola and Mark co-host the Aloha Music Camp – an immersion into the music and culture of Hawaii held each summer in the Hawaiian Islands. (More)

Mark Kailana's Contributions to JamPlay.com

Mark Kailana Nelson has 63 videos at JamPlay, with 63 intermediate lessons. Use the tabs below to learn more.

Subscribing to JamPlay gives you unlimited access to all of Mark Kailana's lessons, as well as all lessons from our roster of instructors.

Hawaiian Slack Key

Hawaiian slack key is a beautiful style of guitar that originated in Hawaii. By blending relaxing melodies with intricate fingerstyle playing, this traditional genre of music is sure to please.

Lesson 1

Intro to Slack Key

Mark Nelson introduces Hawaiian slack key guitar and welcomes you to his lesson series.

Length: 9:11
Lesson 2

Basic Slack Key

Mark delves into the world of slack key guitar. He discusses basic concepts such as open...

Length: 34:24
Lesson 3

Bradda John

In this lesson, Mark teaches a slack key arrangement of the classic song "Brother John."

Length: 14:12
Lesson 4

Old Style Slack

Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful Hawaiian piece that he calls "Old Style Slack."

Length: 30:00
Lesson 5

Vamps and Turnarounds

Turnarounds are very important to the slack key genre. Mark explains what they are and...

Length: 22:00
Lesson 6


Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful Hawaiian slack key piece called "Salomila."

Length: 19:00
Lesson 7

Double Stops in Slack...

Mark Nelson demonstrates how double stops are used in Hawaiian slack key guitar.

Length: 22:00
Lesson 8

Ki Ho'Alu Slide

Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful piece of music he calls "Ki Ho'Alu Slide."

Length: 15:00
Lesson 9

More Turnarounds

Mark Nelson teaches a few more turnarounds. He demonstrates how you can link two turnarounds...

Length: 9:00
Lesson 10

Return to Salomila

Mark Nelson returns to the song "Salomila." Learn an altered version of this song that...

Length: 14:30
Lesson 11

Building Blocks

Mark Nelson provides you with more slack key building blocks. He demonstrates some new...

Length: 23:00
Lesson 12

Return to Old Style...

Mark Nelson returns to the song "Old Style Slack." In this lesson, he teaches a more advanced...

Length: 23:00
Lesson 13

Double Stops and Chords

Mark demonstrates some additional double stops and discusses common slack key chords.

Length: 18:30
Lesson 14

Taropatch Blues

Mark Nelson teaches an original song called "Taropatch Blues." He also explains how improvisation...

Length: 19:00
Lesson 15

Series Review

Mark Nelson reviews the lesson series up to this point and discusses its future.

Length: 16:00
Lesson 16

Aunty Style Slack

Mark Nelson introduces the G Wahine tuning, also known as double slack. He teaches a...

Length: 21:10
Lesson 17

Clave Bass Studies

Mark introduces the concept of the clave rhythm. He explains what the clave is and provides...

Length: 15:56
Lesson 18


Mark Nelson will teaches a slack key piece called "Malasadas." This lesson applies the...

Length: 14:17
Lesson 19

Double Stops and Chords

Mark expands your knowledge of double slack tuning. He introduces some common chords...

Length: 13:57
Lesson 20

Playful Popoki

Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful Hawaiian slack key song entitled "Playful Popoki."

Length: 23:08
Lesson 21

Playful Popoki Part...

Mark teaches another version of "Playful Popoki."

Length: 25:17
Lesson 22

C Wahine Tuning

Mark Nelson introduces C Wahine tuning.

Length: 10:54
Lesson 23

Expanding the Tuning

Mark Nelson expands on Drop C / C Wahine tuning. He explains how familiar chords and...

Length: 15:31
Lesson 24


Mark Nelson teaches a classic Hawaiian slack key piece entitled "Hi`ilawe."

Length: 18:12
Lesson 25

C Wahine Chords

Mark "Kailana" Nelson covers the Drop C / C Wahine tuning again in this lesson. This...

Length: 10:54
Lesson 26

Molokai Waltz

Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful piece entitled "Molokai Waltz" in this lesson. This song...

Length: 13:30
Lesson 27


Mark Nelson teaches a Hawaiian slack key piece entitled "Kowali" in this lesson.

Length: 13:42
Lesson 28

Kowali Modulation

Mark Nelson returns to the song "Kowali" and introduces the concept of modulation in this...

Length: 11:30
Lesson 29


Mark Nelson returns to the world of Hawaiian slack key with a beautiful piece entitled...

Length: 17:36
Lesson 30

Sanoe Modulation

Mark revisits the beautiful song "Sanoe." He explains how the song modulates in this...

Length: 11:31
Lesson 31

Catching up & Moving...

Mark Nelson returns with more slack key! Find out what Mark plans to teach in upcoming...

Length: 14:00
Lesson 32

F Wahine Tuning

Mark Nelson explores the wonders of the beautiful F Wahine tuning.

Length: 29:37
Lesson 33

My Yellow Ginger Lei

Mark Nelson shares his rendition of the beautiful slack key song "My Yellow Ginger Lei."

Length: 14:55
Lesson 34

Mauna Loa Part 1

Mark Nelson teaches a basic version of the song "Mauna Loa."

Length: 10:26
Lesson 35

Mauna Loa Part 2

Mark teaches a more elaborate version of "Mauna Loa."

Length: 12:00
Lesson 36


Mark Nelson teaches a song called "Kawohikukapulani" and discusses the history behind...

Length: 9:19
Lesson 37

My Yellow Ginger Lei...

Mark Nelson talks about discovering your own style as he plays and improvises "My Yellow...

Length: 27:00
Lesson 38

He Aloha No'o Honolulu

Mark Nelson shares his rendition of the song "He Aloha No'o Honolulu" in F Wahine tuning.

Length: 11:25
Lesson 39

He Aloha No'o Honolulu...

Mark Nelson covers an extended version of "He Aloha No'o Honolulu" and continues to touch...

Length: 20:17
Lesson 40

Makee Ailana

Mark Nelson shares his beautiful rendition of the song "Makee Ailana" in this lesson.

Length: 22:00
Lesson 41

Tiare Tahiti

Mark Nelson shares his rendition of "Tiare Tahiti," a lovely song named after the sweet...

Length: 20:22
Lesson 42

Tiare Tahiti Part 2

Mark continues his discussion on the song "Tiare Tahiti" in this lesson.

Length: 17:00
Lesson 43

Series Wrap-up Part...

Mark Nelson begins his series wrap-up with a lesson about the similarities and differences...

Length: 12:27
Lesson 44

Series Wrap-up Part...

Mark continues his series wrap-up with another great lesson filled with information on...

Length: 21:23
Lesson 45

Series Wrap-up Part...

Mark Nelson concludes his series wrap-up with a lesson on "My Yellow Ginger Lei" in Taropatch...

Length: 19:51
Lesson 46

Bring Back the Slack!

Mark Kailana Nelson is back by popular demand with more amazing slack key guitar! In this...

Length: 10:27
Lesson 47

Nanea Kou Maka i ka...

Mark Nelson continues his Slack Key series with another song called "Nanea Kou Maka i...

Length: 24:38
Lesson 48

Intros and Outros

Mark Nelson talks about intros and outros using the tune, "Nanea Kou Maka i ka Le‘ale‘a"...

Length: 19:34
Lesson 49

'Ulupalakua Part 1

Mark Nelson introduces "'Ulupalakua," a song he will be using to teach different skills...

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Lesson 50

'Ulupalakua Part 2:...

Mark Nelson touches on singing and backing up a singer in this lesson. He uses the song...

Length: 25:02
Lesson 51

'Ulupalakua Part 3:...

Mark Nelson demonstrates some fun variations to spice up your playing using the song "Ulupalakua"...

Length: 29:23
Lesson 52

'Ulupalakua Part 4:...

Mark Nelson wraps up this tune by demonstrating two similar songs you may play now that...

Length: 8:01
Lesson 53

Hula Blues Part 1

Mark Nelson introduces the catchy "Hula Blues" in this lesson. He asks that you get the...

Length: 20:22
Lesson 54

Hula Blues Part 2: Variations

Mark Nelson continues his instruction on the catchy tune "Hula Blues" with some fun variations.

Length: 23:33
Lesson 55

Hula Blues Part 3: Singing

Mark Nelson continues the "Hula Blues" with a lesson on lyrics and singing. Mark demonstrates...

Length: 15:53
Lesson 56

‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e...

Mark Nelson introduces a new slack key tune called "‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e" in this lesson....

Length: 23:41
Lesson 57

‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e...

Mark Nelson shows off some fun variations for the catchy slack key tune "‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e."...

Length: 13:36
Lesson 58

‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e...

Mark Nelson wraps up the tune "Opihi Mo‘emo‘e" in this lesson, providing full tab...

Length: 11:50
Lesson 59

Mark's Slack Key Blues

In this short miniseries wrap-up, Mark Nelson slides into his own version of the blues,...

Length: 5:00
Lesson 60

B Flat Tuning Part 1

Mark Nelson introduces and explains an open Bb major tuning in this miniseries introduction.

Length: 14:09
Lesson 61

B Flat Tuning Part 2:...

Mark Nelson goes over a tune called "Green Rose Hula" in the beautiful B flat tuning.

Length: 12:25
Lesson 62

B Flat Tuning Part 3:...

In this lesson, Mark Nelson takes a look at more complex harmonies while teaching the...

Length: 12:57
Lesson 63

B Flat Tuning Part 4:...

Mark Nelson wraps up his open Bb tuning miniseries with a look at a song you might recognize...

Length: 10:28