Hawaiian Steel Guitar Symposium

Symposium Information


Why a Symposium?

The symposium provides an opportunity to learn more about the Hawaiian steel guitar, its history, nuances, and various playing methods and techniques that distinguish it as a unique sounding instrument from other types of steel guitars.

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No Experience Required!

The symposium welcomes anyone with an interest in music and in learning more about the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. Whether you have no playing experience at all, or if you are a beginning student with limited playing experience, or even if you are a seasoned or professional steel guiar player, the symposium has something to offer you.

The symposium's instructors are selected for their knowledge of the instrument and musical experience, and for their ability and willingness to share their knowledge with anyone. You will definitely enjoy your learning experience!



You should bring your own steel guitar if possible since it's best to learn on the instrument you will be playing. If you are using a non-acoustic lap steel guitar, a small portable amplifier, preferably battery operated, is also desirable. If you do not have the recommended equipment, you may be able to borrow this equipment from friends or acquaintences.

Symposium Curriculum

Symposium instructors will cover a variety of subjects. The curriculum assumes no prior knowledge or experience with the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. The following are among the topics that may be covered at the workshop.


Steel Guitar Basics

History of the instrument, mechanics and design of the guitar, how to hold the picks and bar, how to position the hands for effective playing, picking and struming, reading music.


Intermediate Topics

Vamps and fills, tablature and music notation.

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Advanced Topics

Advanced guitar tone and hand position, muting techniques, playing chimes (harmonics,) tunings and when to use them, what sets the Hawaiian style apart from other steel guitar styles, playing in the "Nahenahe" (sweet) style.

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Fills and "pa'ani" (solo) improvising

The "Learning by doing" method will be used to quickly bring participants up to playing comfort. A Hawaiian song featuring the Hawaiian Steel Guitar will be given to participants as a class project to learn and play. Instructors will assist each participant to ensure their success.

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