Pahinui School of Hawaiian Music

Educational Programs and Workshops

In 2007, we expanded our instructional programs to establish Halau Mele Hawai‘i O Pahinui (Pahinui School of Hawaiian Music).

The program features group and private instruction in Kiho‘alu or slack key guitar, steel guitar, ukulele, song selection and composition, and the making and playing of ancient Hawaiian instruments.

“During my dad, Gabby Pahinui’s life, weekends at the Pahinui home in Waimanalo were a continuous jam session, dozens of musicians, both young and old, came by to jam with “the Master.” Many of Hawai‘i’s best musicians came out to these backyard kanikapila sessions.

In the early 80’s, Kanikapila sessions were founded at “Pop’s” Gabby Pahinui’s namesake Waimanalo Park Pavilion to feature and perpetuate Gabby, his Ohana and his Hawaiian style kiho‘alu-slack key music.

Classes at Halau Mele Hawai‘i O Pahinui are taught in the kanikapila style, nana ka maka; ho‘olohe ka pepeiao, which means “Watch with the eyes, and listen with the ears.” Thus one learns. Students of all levels are guided through simple exercises and solos to create the unique Hawaiian music sounds.

Students learn the use of vibrato, harmonics, slurs, harmonies in thirds and sixths, cord-work, legato playing, traditional rhythms and percussion, and other musical ideas that have helped create the distinctive Slack Key guitar sound.

Instructors include: Cyril Pahinui and many other Masters of Hawaiian music who join him regularly as instructors to share their own unique sounds, tunings, and stylings.

The term “slack key” refers to the musical style and the way the guitar is tuned.  Cyril Pahinui teaches several slack key tunings developed by the masters of slack key guitar including Atta Isaacs, Sonny Chillingworth, Leonard Kwan and his father, Gabby Pahinui. His favorite developed by his dad and favored by Atta Isaccs is his C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E).

A $40 fee is charged to each student. Serious students under the age of 20 may attend on scholarship.

Students must bring their own guitar.

For more information on classes and locations please email

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5 Comments to “Hālau Mele Hawai‘i ‘o Pahinui”

  1. cyrilpahinui says:

    Hope to see you at one of my workshops, Cyril

  2. Spanky says:

    I hope for that one day I can be apart of your workshop. It’s been along time that I have picked up the guitar and played, I have picked up the guitar and started playing
    again after I was watching you on the web/u tube made me start back up. much Mahalo.

    PS: I can remember back when I played golf with Papa’s, Uncle Ralph & Uncle Alan and the gang at Kahuku golf course we all had fun, those were the good old days, any way mahalo for the great music you have given all of us.

    Braddah, Spank
    Portland, Oregon

  3. Cyril says:

    Aloha Spanky, That brings back memories. We are thinking of bringing back “Pops” golf tournament as a fundraiser for the Hawaiian Museum of Music and Dance. We do some workshops at the Seattle Salck Key Festival if you cna get a chance to come up there on November 12-13. You can check it out at
    Hope to see you there or in Hawaii when the way is open. Cyril

    • greg c says:

      Aloha cyril from reno Nv. If dis slack-key haole from madland were to com ova ‘der and passionately study with your classes for say 6 months would i ‘eva have the glory of spending time with you as my pesonal.instrctor? If so approximately how many times in.say 6 months of study? Thanks