Slack key guitar

The incredible Makana gave a terrific workshop on slack key guitar at this year’s Pickin’ in the Pines bluegrass festival. Even better, he said we were welcome to record video of the workshop and post it wherever we liked!

I’ve been a fan of his without realizing it ever since I saw the movie The Descendants. Good movie, George Clooney awesome as always, but my favorite part was the soundtrack. Turns out, Makana performed the magical, mystical Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest on that album. If you haven’t heard it, check it out!

I’m a banjo player, not a guitarist, but a couple of things stood out for me that apply equally to any instrument:

  • Beginner mind – Don’t let what you’ve learned get in your way. Stay open to new ways to play with your instrument. This especially resonated with me after I sat in on an old-time jam the day before. I was totally out of my depth but it was a privilege to participate, and it showed me many things I still want to learn.
  • Play – If it isn’t fun, why are you doing it? Makana had so much joy in his instrument and the beautiful sounds it produces, and all the different things he could do by just fiddling around with the tuning; it was contagious!

I video recorded the entire 1-hour workshop in two parts:

  • Part One – the first 15 minutes, up to the point where he decided to replace a string
  • Part Two – the 45 minutes from the story he told while replacing the string until the end

The links above are only good until October 16, 2019, but feel free to download the videos to keep.

And – if you’re anywhere near Flagstaff, Arizona, in September, or even if you’re far, far away – check out the festival. It’ll put a smile on your face.

Written by Shan
I spent 25 years conducting performance audits of state agencies, looking for ways they could be more effective and efficient. I helped write countless government reports. I worked with the smartest, nicest people in state government, and was honored to be a part of that group. Now, though, I’m writing fiction (yay! adjectives! dialogue!), learning banjo, traveling, hanging out with my fabulous granddaughters, and – big surprise – I’m still not decluttering that back room that was on hold for the past 25 years.