Hawaiian Steel Guitar Symposium


Steel Guitar Symposiums (Camps)

Steel Guitar Symposiums or "Camps" as they are sometimes called, are intensive, multi-day enrichment experiences with the Hawaiian (lap) Steel Guitar. Participants can learn about this instrument, so very important to Hawaiian culture and which almost became extinct because of unwillingness of old-time players to share their tunings and playing techniques. Participants will learn how to play, what to play, and when to play from professional steel guitar masters. No prior experience on the instrument is required but participants are required to have their own instrument and mini-amplifier.

The flagship camp was developed on Maui and was held immediately prior to the annual Maui Steel Guitar Festival. This provided an opportunity for festival guests to first learn about the instrument then see and hear how it integrates with Hawaiian music. The camp is now being extended statewide and may be offered in conjunction with steel guitar festivals on other islands.

The goal of this fee-based camp is to have each participant play class-assigned Hawaiian songs on the Hawaiian steel guitar. Three intensive Hawaiian steel guitar sessions (typically two in the morning and one in the afternoon) will be conducted on each day by steel guitar professionals such as Alan Akaka and Greg Sardinha, two of Hawaii's great steel guitar masters. Participants will be given individual attention by the instructors to assist with playing skill and technique development. Each day will end with a class kanikapila where the students can hone their performance skills and play along with everyone else. At the camp's conclusion, all attendees will be able to play the class assigned song on the Hawaiian steel guitar.

Camp curriculum is based on and will be geared towards the abilities of the participants.

Workshops and Institutes

Workshops and institutes are also designed to provide training on the Hawaiian steel guitar but are smaller in scope and less intensive when compared to the instruction format of steel guitar camps. Fee-based workshops and institutes may be held on a single day or shorter training sessions may be spread over multiple days. Specialized training may be geared to attract youth musicians.


Mini-Symposiums are typically single-day "pop-up" events designed to provide minimal background and training in the Hawaiian steel guitar similar to the "hands-on" opportunities offered at steel guitar festivals. These events are free, open to the public and designed to stimulate interest and encourage follow-on study and training in the instrument.


The 2024 NorCal Steel Guitar Symposium is a one-day workshop limited to 20 students that will offer individual and group instruction.   » More

Past Events

Past Symposium events, including the Maui Steel Guitar camp and the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Camp are listed here.








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