Mark Kailana Nelson

Mark Kailana Nelson

Mark Kailana is a Guitar instructor at

"Nelson is a musician who possesses that rare combination of insight and talent necessary to successfully transcend conventional concepts of genre and culture." John Berger, Honolulu Star-Bulletin "Every once in a while a musician comes along who can make an instrument speak in tongues" Deseret News, Salt Lake City "Mark Nelson seems to be on to something new and sweet with his marriage of Appalachian dulcimer and Hawaiian slack key guitar. Drizzle is one of the mos... (more)

Mark Kailana currently offers 63 guitar lessons at JamPlay, with 63 intermediate lessons.

Mark Kailana Nelson's contribution to JamPlay

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Hawaiian Slack Key

Learn to Play 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.


Intro to Slack Key

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

9:11 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty


Basic Slack Key

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

34:24 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Bradda John

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

14:12 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Old Style Slack

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

30:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Vamps and Turnarounds

Turnarounds are very important to the slack key genre. Mark explains what they are and how they are used in this lesson.

22:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



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

19:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Double Stops in Slack Key

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

22:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Ki Ho'Alu Slide

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

15:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


More Turnarounds

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

9:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Return to Salomila

Mark Nelson returns to the song "Salomila." Learn an altered version of this song that will put your slack key skills to the test.

14:30 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Building Blocks

Mark Nelson provides you with more slack key building blocks. He demonstrates some new turnarounds that involve playing double stops in sixths.

23:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Return to Old Style Slack

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

23:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Double Stops and Chords

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

18:30 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Taropatch Blues

Mark Nelson teaches an original song called "Taropatch Blues." He also explains how improvisation is used in the slack key genre.

19:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Series Review

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

16:00 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Aunty Style Slack

Mark Nelson introduces the G Wahine tuning, also known as double slack. He teaches a song in this tuning called "Aunty Style Slack."

21:10 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Clave Bass Studies

Mark introduces the concept of the clave rhythm. He explains what the clave is and provides some fun Hawaiian themed exercises to play.

15:56 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty



Mark Nelson will teaches a slack key piece called "Malasadas." This lesson applies the clave bass pattern from lesson 17.

14:17 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Double Stops and Chords

Mark expands your knowledge of double slack tuning. He introduces some common chords and double stops in this tuning.

13:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Playful Popoki

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

23:08 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Playful Popoki Part 2

Mark teaches another version of "Playful Popoki."

25:17 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


C Wahine Tuning

Mark Nelson introduces C Wahine tuning.

10:54 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Expanding the Tuning

Mark Nelson expands on Drop C / C Wahine tuning. He explains how familiar chords and double stops can be played in this tuning.

15:31 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



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

18:12 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


C Wahine Chords

Mark "Kailana" Nelson covers the Drop C / C Wahine tuning again in this lesson. This time around he introduces more chords and variations.

10:54 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Molokai Waltz

Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful piece entitled "Molokai Waltz" in this lesson. This song demonstrates how you can play melody out of chord shapes.

13:30 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



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

13:42 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Kowali Modulation

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

11:30 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



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

17:36 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Sanoe Modulation

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

11:31 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Catching up & Moving on

Mark Nelson returns with more slack key! Find out what Mark plans to teach in upcoming lessons and learn his approach to fingerpicking technique.

14:00 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


F Wahine Tuning

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

29:37 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


My Yellow Ginger Lei

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

14:55 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Mauna Loa Part 1

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

10:26 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Mauna Loa Part 2

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

12:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



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

9:19 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty


My Yellow Ginger Lei Variations

Mark Nelson talks about discovering your own style as he plays and improvises "My Yellow Ginger Lei" in F Wahine tuning.

27:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


He Aloha No'o Honolulu

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

11:25 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


He Aloha No'o Honolulu Part 2

Mark Nelson covers an extended version of "He Aloha No'o Honolulu" and continues to touch on the subject of creating your own style.

20:17 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Makee Ailana

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

22:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Tiare Tahiti

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

20:22 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty


Tiare Tahiti Part 2

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

17:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Series Wrap-up Part 1

Mark Nelson begins his series wrap-up with a lesson about the similarities and differences between tunings. The song "Sanoe" is used as an example.

12:27 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Series Wrap-up Part 2

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

21:23 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Series Wrap-up Part 3

Mark Nelson concludes his series wrap-up with a lesson on "My Yellow Ginger Lei" in Taropatch tuning. He also shares tips and advice to continue on your own until he returns to JamPlay with more lessons.

19:51 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Bring Back the Slack!

Mark Kailana Nelson is back by popular demand with more amazing slack key guitar! In this series reintroduction, he talks about what he will be teaching in his new set of lessons.

10:27 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


Nanea Kou Maka i ka Le‘ale‘a

Mark Nelson continues his Slack Key series with another song called "Nanea Kou Maka i ka Le‘ale‘a." Mark lays out the basics of the song and talks a little about making it your own.

24:38 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Intros and Outros

Mark Nelson talks about intros and outros using the tune, "Nanea Kou Maka i ka Le‘ale‘a" as an example to work from.

19:34 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


'Ulupalakua Part 1

Mark Nelson introduces "'Ulupalakua," a song he will be using to teach different skills and techniques. In this lesson, he explains the tune and asks that you get it under your belt before moving on.

6:42 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

View this Lesson

'Ulupalakua Part 2: Singing

Mark Nelson touches on singing and backing up a singer in this lesson. He uses the song "'Ulupalakua" as an example and explains the lyrics.

25:02 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


'Ulupalakua Part 3: Variations

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

29:23 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


'Ulupalakua Part 4: Three Songs

Mark Nelson wraps up this tune by demonstrating two similar songs you may play now that you have "Ulupalakua" under your belt.

8:01 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Hula Blues Part 1

Mark Nelson introduces the catchy "Hula Blues" in this lesson. He asks that you get the song under your belt before moving on to the lessons to follow.

20:22 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Hula Blues Part 2: Variations

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

23:33 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Hula Blues Part 3: Singing

Mark Nelson continues the "Hula Blues" with a lesson on lyrics and singing. Mark demonstrates some useful tips and tricks to get you going.

15:53 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e Part 1

Mark Nelson introduces a new slack key tune called "‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e" in this lesson. As usual, Mark starts off by going over each section of the song and asks that you to get it down before moving on.

23:41 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e Part 2

Mark Nelson shows off some fun variations for the catchy slack key tune "‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e." His primary goal for this lesson is to help make this song unique to your personal style.

13:36 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e Part 3

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

11:50 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Mark's Slack Key Blues

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

5:00 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


B Flat Tuning Part 1

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

14:09 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


B Flat Tuning Part 2: Green Rose Hula

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

12:25 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


B Flat Tuning Part 3: Pua Lilia

In this lesson, Mark Nelson takes a look at more complex harmonies while teaching the beautiful song "Pua Lilia".

12:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


B Flat Tuning Part 4: ‘Ulupalakua

Mark Nelson wraps up his open Bb tuning miniseries with a look at a song you might recognize from previous lessons, "‘Ulupalakua".

10:28 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

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