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 Slack Key lessons over Skype?
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Eynowd
Lokahi

Australia
177 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2016 :  4:47:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm finding myself stuck breaking away from tab, so I'm seriously considering getting a lesson or several.

Sadly, I won't be able to go to Hawaii in person any time soon, so I'm limited to getting lessons via Skype.

So: who's currently offering lessons in this way and who would people recommend? (An idea about lesson pricing would also be very useful, given the relatively weak status of the Australian dollar right now)

And what sort of hardware would be needed?

Geoff - g'day from Canberra, Australia.

Earl
Lokahi

USA
385 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  08:56:28 AM  Show Profile  Visit Earl's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I know that Keola Beamer does internet lessons, but they are not cheap. (You wouldn't expect to get blues lessons from Eric Clapton for $20 an hour, would you?) Mark Nelson has several graded slack-key video lessons on Jam Play (by annual subscription). I'm sure there are others, but these two jump to mind right away.

There are tons of DVD lessons that are visual-based rather than tab. Ozzie Kotani's DVD lessons are good, and both Volume 1 and Volume 2 are useful. I usually suggest www.thegtw.com and Keoki Kahumoku's beginning lessons. They are among the best beginner lessons that I've ever seen. He actually goes slow and builds slowly, instead of showing something slowly once then jumping promptly into intermediate speed and topics -- like most DVD's.

BTW, I don't use Skype but I'm sure it would work. We have an Apple MacBook and use Facetime. I don't have Skype or a web cam for my Windows PC. I actually gave my first guitar lesson to a friend in Arizona last Friday via Facetime. It works fine, but there is a 1-2 second delay. You cannot really play together very well.
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ukrazy
Akahai

USA
69 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  1:04:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I had to go it on my own too. Slack key players are pretty non existent in the desert of Arizona. Played only by little dots on paper for months. I went on a camping trip and brought the guitar, but forgot my notebook. Played everything I could from memory, and learned to fudge what I couldn't remember. Figured out lots of vamps, and did a ton of walk ups, and walk downs. Learned more about my guitar, and found my own style in just a few days. Sometime during that trip I played a little bit of something that reminded me of a song. So I figured it out. My first song on my own was Roger Miller's "King Of The Road". Came home recharged, and inspired. Using " He Mele Aloha" book, I started playing a lot of my favorites that I was already playing on the uke. Rarely do tab anymore.
Not what you asked, but hope you'll spend some time just playing for fun. If you've been playing tab for a while you already know plenty of patterns that can be used on many songs. Every note you play is a piece of a chord or passing between chords. Take time to learn what those chords are. Mess around with a couple of two chord songs. "E Lili'u E" is a great one for slack key. Figure out how to play each of the two chords in several different places. Some different vamps, and a little of this and a little of that, makes it sound quite complex. One rule is: Never play it the same way twice.
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Eynowd
Lokahi

Australia
177 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  3:43:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Earl

Mark Nelson has several graded slack-key video lessons on Jam Play (by annual subscription). I'm sure there are others, but these two jump to mind right away.

There are tons of DVD lessons that are visual-based rather than tab. Ozzie Kotani's DVD lessons are good, and both Volume 1 and Volume 2 are useful. I usually suggest www.thegtw.com and Keoki Kahumoku's beginning lessons. They are among the best beginner lessons that I've ever seen. He actually goes slow and builds slowly, instead of showing something slowly once then jumping promptly into intermediate speed and topics -- like most DVD's.



I've got both of Ozzie's DVDs, Ledward Kaapana's one and access to Mark Nelson's series on Jamplay (I joined Jamplay last year specifically so I could watch it). I've got plans to get Keoki's and Patrick's DVDs as well later this year.

They're all really good, but they all suffer the same problem: you can't ask questions when you get stuck on something :)

Geoff - g'day from Canberra, Australia.
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Eynowd
Lokahi

Australia
177 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  3:54:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ukrazy

I had to go it on my own too. Slack key players are pretty non existent in the desert of Arizona. Played only by little dots on paper for months. I went on a camping trip and brought the guitar, but forgot my notebook. Played everything I could from memory, and learned to fudge what I couldn't remember. Figured out lots of vamps, and did a ton of walk ups, and walk downs. Learned more about my guitar, and found my own style in just a few days. Sometime during that trip I played a little bit of something that reminded me of a song. So I figured it out. My first song on my own was Roger Miller's "King Of The Road". Came home recharged, and inspired. Using " He Mele Aloha" book, I started playing a lot of my favorites that I was already playing on the uke. Rarely do tab anymore.
Not what you asked, but hope you'll spend some time just playing for fun. If you've been playing tab for a while you already know plenty of patterns that can be used on many songs. Every note you play is a piece of a chord or passing between chords. Take time to learn what those chords are. Mess around with a couple of two chord songs. "E Lili'u E" is a great one for slack key. Figure out how to play each of the two chords in several different places. Some different vamps, and a little of this and a little of that, makes it sound quite complex. One rule is: Never play it the same way twice.



Mahalo for this. In its odd way, I think it's actually helped.

Uncle Fran said a while back that the chords are the key, but I was still struggling with the which strings do you play at which point?

I keep feeling that there was something simple and fundamental that I was missing and not knowing what that was has been driving me nuts. In standard tuning, I can learn the chord shapes and either use a strumming pattern or a regular fingerstyle pattern and get something that sounds reasonably close to the song. And with the same tricks and a bit of effort, I can learn new tunes pretty easily.

Slack key though has been a completely different kettle of fish. While I now the open and closed positions on the 1st and 3rd strings pretty well (and I'm working on the thirds on both the 1st and 2nd, and 2nd and 3rd strings) but I'm still not sure which note to play when, at least not without the tab to help.

I'm heading interstate next week for a few days and was already planning on taking my slack key guitar with me, so I might see if I can concentrate on this stuff, instead of learning something new from tab.

(although I have to admit: the whole "never play it the same way twice" concept still weirds me out. How do you end up with the same tune if you play it differently to everyone else, including yourself?)

Geoff - g'day from Canberra, Australia.

Edited by - Eynowd on 03/23/2016 3:54:38 PM
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Earl
Lokahi

USA
385 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2016 :  04:53:39 AM  Show Profile  Visit Earl's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I see better what you were asking now. I've worked on learning the common chords is as many positions as possible (find four G's and three C's plus three D's or D7's). Then I worked out a collection of vamps and endings that can be interchanged. That is how you get to "never playing it the same way twice", which used to puzzle me too -- until I had more slack-key vocabulary under my fingers. If you are going from G to C, for example, you can use the first position versions the first time through, then switch to the barred versions the second time through, while using different vamps each time as turnarounds. I also took a common song like "Puff the Magic Dragon" and turned it into a slack key piece. I had heard Doug McMaster do that during a trip to Kauai, but had no tab and could not remember how his hands moved from having just watched it played once.

I was on a long trip once and happened to have left the guitar in F Wahine tuning the night before. Not having very many tunes down in that tuning yet, I was inspired to start working on re-learning some of the tunes that I already played in that new tuning. First it was just looking for the basic chord progression, then finding the melody, and finally stumbling through and working out some turnarounds. Now I can do most of the basic Ozzie tunes from his book in both taro path and F Wahine. It was a fascinating exercise that was originally bred by boredom in a hotel room.

My introduction to slack-key was by Mark Nelson in Alaska at a summer festival. He did a workshop and we basically learned open and closed positions and which bass strings to use with each one, plus two turnarounds. From there I started noodling with these basic building blocks, and by the next day I had my own little tune / exercise. It is still on my play list as "Slack Key Noodle".

Hope this helps.

Edited by - Earl on 03/24/2016 04:55:24 AM
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ukrazy
Akahai

USA
69 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2016 :  06:22:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would encourage you to do this exercise, by hand. Draw out the fretboard on paper. Label all the notes up to at least the 15th. fret. Now, figure out, or find out the note spelling of your basic chords for the key. Guessing taropatch. Using the spelling find all of the places you can play the same chord. I accent more on the common open and closed pairs, but there is almost always another finger you can drop down for another note in the chord. Also, you don't really need all of the chord notes to get the jist of the chord sound. On the ukulele, the most common way to play a D7 chord, fingered 2020, actually doesn't have the root note.
Slack key becomes fun when you can easily move up and down the fretboard in very fluid motion. Once you can stop over thinking it and let your inner self take over, then you are actually playing slack key. No rules is the way I play.
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Eynowd
Lokahi

Australia
177 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2016 :  2:38:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks very much to both of you, this is proving really useful :D

I'm puzzled as to why chords don't get mentioned a whole lot in the slack key instructional stuff if they're so important to learning to play freely. Ozzie's book barely mentions them at all (the only reference I could find was in the diagram on the open and closed positions) and Mark Nelson doesn't really talk about them in his JamPlay videos either. (Harry Koizumi has been talking about G & D7 licks in a couple of his YouTube vids though).

I have more questions if you'll indulge me.

I've had already started down the path that ukrazy has suggested, by writing out all the notes on all strings down the fretboard and trying to figure out how to play in different positions. I've actually been working on this for a few weeks now, on and off, with mixed degree of success. I started by translating string/fret positions from tab into actual notes and then trying

I'm still as confused as ever, so I'm not sure if I'm doing it right or not.

How do you know which stings to pluck? (So, not so much on left hand fretting technique, but more right hand technique - with apologies to the left handed players out there).

In Taropatch tuning, I can play a G chord for example on the open frets of strings 1, 2 & 3. Or I can play it on frets 9, 8 & 7 on those strings respectively. But the actual notes on each string in the different positions are not the same. They're all notes that make up a G chord (G, B, D - the 1, 3, 5 scale degrees in the key of G), but they're an inversion further up the neck.

When it comes to playing the melody, for example, do you look for the same notes in the new position, or do you start from a different note in the scale, and use the same intervals? Does that make sense?

(It might be my confusion is caused in part by the fact I came to music fairly late. I had to do music in my first year of high school over thirty years ago, and thought for years I had no musical talent at all. I only picked up a guitar two years ago and discovered to my surprise that wasn't true, and I've only been learning slack key for eighteen months. My ear training is still exceptionally weak :( )

Geoff - g'day from Canberra, Australia.
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ukrazy
Akahai

USA
69 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2016 :  07:17:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't know if I can help you or hurt you. I'm primarily a singer so I do a simple style of slack key. I play basic patterns over the chords. I never think about what note to play. As long as I'm holding the chord, and playing the right bass notes, any string works. I almost always fret the top 3 treble strings. Once you do this for a while, you'll develop your own picking patterns. After listening to others for a while you'll hear that Leeward sounds like leeward, Dennis Kamakahi sounds like Dennis, and so on. You want to sound like Geoff, not some recording.
I have an assignment for you. Learn the lyrics to "My Yellow Ginger Lei" and sing it out loud, or in your head as you play G,and D7. Start out as simple as possible. When you get bored, start alternating playing G's and D7's in other places. Each time you get to the turn around, play that too, in a different way. Honestly, when you really learn the song, your fingers will go into auto and will play without you having to think about it. To me, the fun part of songs, besides singing, is coming up with good intro's and endings. I don't plan anything out, or write it down,it just happens if it happens. Mostly based upon what I've heard, or have done before. My style is mine, based on standard slack key sounding sequences. You really need to get an over thinking brain out of the picture. The creative mind, and heart is where the music comes from.
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Eynowd
Lokahi

Australia
177 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2016 :  11:17:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
OK, I'll give that a go when I'm away next week. :)

Geoff - g'day from Canberra, Australia.
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neeej
`Olu`olu

USA
627 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2016 :  05:43:32 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Don't let "doing it right" bother you...if you like the sound, you're doing it right <G>

--Jean S
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Admin
Pupule

USA
4545 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2016 :  06:35:28 AM  Show Profile  Visit Admin's Homepage  Send Admin an AOL message  Send Admin an ICQ Message  Send Admin a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I've never taken a lesson via Skype but I recently rehearsed with a friend using Facetime. It worked reasonably well. It was definitely preferable to driving 1.5 hours each way. Ultimately, it will require that your computer has a camera, mic, and decent internet connection.

Kimo West teaches via Skype. He is a great player so might be worth looking in to.

Good luck!

Andy
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Earl
Lokahi

USA
385 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2016 :  08:48:01 AM  Show Profile  Visit Earl's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Just an opinion here, but this almost seems like a topic worthy of its own area on the "Instruction" page, along with books, videos, camps, etc. It might stand out better among the general discussion in the general forum. (It is easy to suggest work for someone else).
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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1500 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2016 :  12:05:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've been taking Hawaiian steel from Alan Akaka for about 4 years. It was impossible at first to play together, since the basic Skype was half duplex, resulting in about a 2 second delay. About a year ago, the update (what you get today) included full duplex transmission, and the problem is gone. I know that, in addition to Alan, John Ely gives steel lessons via Skype. I also use Skype with Mark Roeder in Wisconsin and Rene Ranti in Amsterdam, NL. Go for it, I say.

keaka
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Admin
Pupule

USA
4545 Posts

Posted - 03/31/2016 :  10:32:22 AM  Show Profile  Visit Admin's Homepage  Send Admin an AOL message  Send Admin an ICQ Message  Send Admin a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Earl

Just an opinion here, but this almost seems like a topic worthy of its own area on the "Instruction" page, along with books, videos, camps, etc. It might stand out better among the general discussion in the general forum. (It is easy to suggest work for someone else).

That's fair. I suppose our discussion is about a "live lesson" only over Skype? I've moved it here before my head starts to spin.

Andy
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vscotth
Aloha

USA
39 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2016 :  5:44:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit vscotth's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Gday Geoff,

I have published a book about slack key tunings. You may find it a useful reference. Information about the book can be found at www.slackkeytunings.com.

Cheers,

Scott
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