Learn to play "I Kona" on Ukulele


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Print the Lyrics and Chords for "I Kona"

Play along with the "I Kona" Hawaiian Ukulele Play-Along as performed by Steven Espaniola in the key of C. This traditional Hawaiian song was popularized in Hawaii by Ledward Ka'apana. It was also covered by many artists, including Dennis Pavao and Steven Espaniola. Play along with the Ukulele Play-Along above, and if you need some extra help with the chords, start with STEP 1 below:

STEP 1 - The Chords

First, you'll need to learn the chords for this song:
D7 G7 C Csus4 Ukulele Chords
D7(2020), G7(0212), C(0003), Csus4(0013)

At the very end of the song, Aldrine and Steven both do a quick run of Bb-B-C to end the song. It's basically just holding the same shape and sliding it up one fret at a time:
Bb B C Ukulele Chords
Bb(3211), B(4322), C(5433)

Practice holding each chord and memorize the names of each chord. When you can see the name of the chord and instantly know how to hold it, you're ready to move on.

STEP 2 - Chord Switching

Next you'll need to be able to switch chords smoothly. Play along with the practice video below and be sure to switch to the next chord right on time with Aldrine.

Once you can hold the chords, switch between them, and strum them at the right times, you're ready to play the song! Go back to the Play-Along video at the top of the page and play through the whole song, holding the chords and strumming them at the right times when they change. Awesome, you've just played the beginner version of this song!

STEP 3 - Beginner Rhythm

I Kona is a Hawaiian song that follows the rhythm of traditional Hawaiian ballads. The rhythm can seem complicated to those unfamiliar with Hawaiian music. But if you would like to strum along with the song as a beginner, feel free to use a simple, steady down-up-down-up strum. Use the following video to practice:

When you're able to switch to the correct chords at the right times and do this simple strum along to the song, congratulations! Go back to the Play-Along video at the top of the page and play through the whole song, strumming through it. Great job, you've just played the intermediate version of this song!

STEP 4 - Advanced Rhythm

Here Aldrine explains the Rhythm of traditional Hawaiian ballad songs. Check out the video below for an explanation on how to play it.

Try it out! As long as you keep the rhythm steady, feel free to use whatever combination of down and up strums that comes naturally to you. Go back to the Play-Along video at the top of the page and play through the whole song, switching through the chords and adding your own rhythm.

STEP 5 - Advanced Vamp Chords

During the vamps ("turnarounds" between each verse), Aldrine uses some alternate chords instead:
D9 G6/9 C Ukulele Chords
D9(5657), G6/9(4557), C(0003)

D9 (also called D7add9), G9 (also called G7add6add9). Aldrine also explains how to use these chords and play them using the Advanced Rhythm you learned in Step 4:

Next, go to the Play-Along video at the top of the page now and play through the song, using the advanced rhythm and vamp chords that you learned. Great job, you completed the advanced version of this song.

STEP 6 - Picking

Use the slowed-down video of the picking below, along with the "I Kona" Ukulele Picking TABS, to learn and practice the picking that Aldrine plays during the song.

Finally, head back up to the top of the page and play along with the Play-Along. If you got this far, congratulations! As always, feel free to follow along to the point that your skill level allows, work at it, and see how far you can go. And whenever you have questions, we're always here for you! Have fun, keep strummin'

Aloha,
-UU Staff

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