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Hawaiian Songs For ʻUkulele
Do you want to be able to play that Hawaiian sound on your ukulele? To capture the organic and laid-back feel of the islands?
Until now, there hasn’t been a comprehensive and authentic online alternative for learning the uke Hawaiian style.
All that changes with Hawaiian Songs For ʻUkulele!
“How can I make my ʻukulele playing sound more Hawaiian?”
It’s a question you probably wonder about yourself.
When I first started playing Hawaiian music on the uke, I never felt like I captured the same relaxed and soulful sound that my teachers did. Everything I played felt stiff and awkward.
My epiphany came when I realized that:
Sounding Hawaiian starts with learning Hawaiian-style
Most of the ukulele learning material available today is brief, focused on getting you playing “fast” and “easy”.
Hawaiian music is neither fast nor easy to learn (but it is tremendously fun and rewarding!). It deserves – and requires – dedication and an eye for detail.
In Hawaiian Songs For ʻUkulele, we’ll slow way down so that you get to develop skills in a Hawaiian-style way.
By learning every part of these songs and developing an intuitive feel for music, I’ll help you become more comfortable and more confident in everything you play.
Sounds and looks great! Well done! Makes me want to bust out my ukuleles and jam along.
– Keoki Kahumoku – Performer on five Grammy winning compilation albums
What You Get
In these 25 video lessons, Brad Bordessa teaches you how to play five iconic Hawaiian songs on your ukulele.
Each lesson is shot with two HD cameras. One for close-ups, one wide frame.
These fun, timeless songs provide a fantastic sandbox for exploring the island ukulele sound.
Brad, your approach to learning is so different from others and I love it! I’ve learned so much from just the first song.
– William Moeller
There are four HD video lessons per song:
- How to pick the melody
- How to strum the chords and sing
- How to play a basic solo arrangement
- How to freestyle an advanced solo arrangement
You’ll also learn about some general aspects of Hawaiian music like vamps and playing with the right feeling in a handful of videos outside of the song lessons.
In this video you can hear a snippet of each song. I’m playing interpretations based loosely on the solo arrangements we’ll learn.
Every song has a TAB lead sheet transcription that shows the picking melody (TAB and standard notation), chords, and lyrics. There is also background information about the songs and resources for learning more.
There are 80 high-quality backing tracks that cover multiple instrument variations for each song at a performance tempo and a -25% tempo. For instance, if you want to practice picking the lead melody, you can use a backing track without singing so you can play your role in the “band.”
Each lesson has a comments section where you can ask questions and compare notes with fellow students. There is also a forum section for sharing performance videos and general Hawaiian music discussion.
I find the course very interesting and enjoy learning the meaning of the songs. … What surprises me is that from the lead sheet the songs seem really simple but they sound really Hawaiian. I like the solo arrangements you teach … as you say it’s all about finding your own ways to play a song and that is what I’m trying to do. Anyway I like this course and will keep returning to it over and over.
– Joanna Vandenberg
What Students are Saying
Your course is amazing and very well structured. So much to learn and absorb. The Hawaiian word meanings are very helpful. I like that you teach basic and advanced too. This course goes well with finger picking uke and guitar classes I am taking locally. Cool!
You have put a lot of time and effort into this course so big mahalos.
– Tom K
Mahalo Brad for all your uke lessons. Because of your lessons my playing has improved a lot.
– Bettina Robinson
I really like the course so far. I’m taking it slowly … practicing it as I go and also listening to Hawaiian music and even reading Hawaiian history. … I’m glad for the course and it has been my goal for some time to learn some Hawaiian music. I enjoy your teaching style. Thanks so much. It’s great that modern technology allows for home instruction like this.
– Susan Kubeska
Your instruction on learning by ear is a big confidence booster. I can learn most songs, eventually, by reading chord diagrams or picking out notes from a tab sheet. However, those end up being unsatisfying because I worry about making mistakes, missing a note, or fumbling a chord transition. Even when I don’t make a mistake, the music often seems to lack life. If I’m playing with others, it becomes a real chore to stay with the group.
I think the joy of ‘ukulele is in kani ka pila with other musicians. When I have a sheet of music in front of me, I feel like I’m playing behind a wall. I watch you, Ledward, Bryan Tolentino, Peter DeAquino, and others playing at George’s workshop, and I see an element of music that goes beyond skill and technical artistry. Hell, it’s just fun…
That’s why I like your approach to music. I admit that I have a lot to learn, but when I try to follow you by ear, I feel more connected to the music. Great lessons!
– Mark Troy, Texas
What a great course! I learned a ton and feel like these songs are a part of me now. The heart and honesty shines through in your work. Thanks!
Here’s my attempt at … one with a high G.
“I’m having a blast with “Nani Ka’ala” so far. I took your advice and avoided downloading the tabs in favor of learning by ear and watching. The language pronunciation lessons and backing tracks have been so helpful. There is so much useful material to work on with this song alone, but I can see how it all applies to anything I choose to play. So glad you have put in the time and thought this out so clearly. The backing tracks really help with my timing, and this course is geared toward every level of player. Thanks again.”
– Bob Seeley – Venice, CA
What do the songs sound like?
You can hear snippets of me playing solo arrangements of each song in the video above. If you want to hear some more classic Hawaiian recordings, here are popular renditions of each song:
What is a course?
A course is a set of pre-recorded lesson videos. Just like Masterclass or The Ukulele Way, you log in and access them at any time and at your own pace.
Once you’ve bought the course, you have lifetime access to the content. Take your time working through the lessons or even revisit them years later!
What level player is this course for?
There is something for everybody as long as you can strum a few chords and keep a beat.
Beginner players can strum the chords, intermediate players can pick the melody, and advanced players can improvise their own solo arrangements. There are plenty of challenges for any level between.
What if I’ve never played Hawaiian music before?
Then you’re in the perfect place! This course will teach you the fundamentals of the genre and how to take it to the next level.
Is it for High-g or Low-G?
In this course I try to teach for both high-g and low-G. That said, for the solo arrangements, it’s really helpful to have the extra notes of the low-G. You can use a high-g and make it work, but there might be a couple moments in one or two songs when you have to improvise a bit.
What is your background in Hawaiian music?
I’ve been playing Hawaiian music since my very first ukulele lesson at Hale Halawai in 2005. Living in Kona provided many opportunities to learn, jam, and feel Hawaiian music.
My big leap forward came in 2006 when I first attended the Kahumoku ʻOhana Music & Lifestyle Workshop. Here I was able to study with Herb Ohta, Jr., the late Dennis Kamakahi, Kimo Hussey, Sonny Lim, John Keawe, Brittni Paiva, and, of course, the Kahumoku ʻohana – Keoki, George, and the late Moses.
I attended the workshop seven more times over the years and by 2011 I was teaching at the workshop myself.
In 2012, George Kahumoku, Jr. started the Institute of Hawaiian Music at UH Maui college. I auditioned and became part of the first cohort. We played gigs, danced hula, met legendary musicians, learned the fundamentals of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi – some of which even counted towards our full-time college course load!
After graduating with honors from IHM, I returned home and began trying to build a career in music. Along the way I’ve gotten to sit in on gigs with HAPA, the late Martin Pahinui, Sonny Lim, and others.
I was brought onto the staff of Uncle George Kahumoku, Jr.’s Slack Key & ʻUkulele Workshop in 2016 and have returned every year since. At the workshop I’ve gotten to know and jam with Uncle Led Kaapana, Uncle Kevin Brown, Jeff Peterson, Steven Inglis, and others, along with maintaining my friendship/mentorship with Herb, Uncle Sonny, and Uncle George.
I’m currently gigging with Keoki Kahumoku a couple times a month.
Will I get TABs for advanced fingerstyle solo arrangements?
No! The whole idea of this course is to encourage self-discovery and intuitive, Hawaiian-style playing and learning – especially for more advanced players.
I explicitly teach the melody and chords for each song via video lessons and TABs so they’re accessible to beginners.
When we move into the solo arrangement video lessons, I expect you to do some of your own work. I’ll walk you through how I play the arrangement and explain why I do things a certain way, but you’ll have to watch and listen and take notes in order to learn it yourself.
This “repeat after me” style of learning can sometimes take a little longer, but in my experience, once you’ve learned how to play it, it sticks in your mind a lot better. It also allows for you to make artistic choices and create arrangements that are unique to you and express what you want to hear.
Some folks might see this as the “hard way,” but in order to play Hawaiian songs authentically, you have to learn them Hawaiian style…! Plus, you will learn valuable skills and become a better musician faster.
Can I Use [XYZ uke tuning] For This Course?
This course is taught specifically for GCEA tuning. If you want to transpose everything, you can take advantage of the universal concepts, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
Is There a Guarantee?
Yes. Try it out for 30 days. If you don’t like it or don’t think it’s a good fit, email me at
email@example.com and I’ll refund your money.