Learn To Play Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele by Mark Kailana Nelson Book Review


I taught myself to play fingerstyle guitar when I was a teenager. I would sit on my bed for hours at a time with various tablature books that I had purchased from Elderly Instruments. It was a surprise that as soon as I found myself interested in the ukulele, that I began searching for tablature books on the style I like best: fingerstyle. The first book that I was lucky to stumble upon was the Learn To Play Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele by Mark Kailana Nelson.

This soft bound 9 x 12 inch, 96 page book is filled with 28 songs that are shown in both standard notation and tablature. Here’s what you get:

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – EZ arrangement
2. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – fingerpicking exercise
3. All Through the Night (basic arrangement)
4. Las Mananitas
5. Pua Sadinia*
6. Isa Lei (basic arrangement)
7. E Kuu Morning Dew (basic arrangement)
8. Aloha Oe*
9. Wehiwehi Oe*
10. All Through the Night (extended arrangement)
11. Dona Nobis Pacem
12. Galiarde
13. The Southwind*
14. Greensleeves*
15. Hilo March*
16. New Spanish Fandango*
17. E Kuu Morning Dew (Slack Key Style)
18. Over the Rainbow
19. Ahi Wela*
20. Minuet
21. The Ragged Little Flea*
22. Kaulana Na Pua*
23. Planxty Irwin*
24. Danny Boy
25. Blue Ukulele Blues
26. Mbube (Wimoweh)*
27. Isa Lei (extended arrangement)
28. Gaviotas*

* Songs playable on Baritone and Low G instruments

There are a handful of songs that have both easy and advanced arrangement versions and a CD is included that has each song professionally recorded. I really enjoy all of these songs and find myself listening to the CD on my iPod just as if it was a regular artist’s CD. It’s that good! Listening to it inspires me to want to learn to play all the songs. 🙂

The first ukulele song that I ever memorized all the way through without needing to refer back to sheet music happens to be  the first song in this book: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Mark’s arrangement of that simple children’s tune had me hooked on fingerstyle ukulele from the first note I plucked.

Unlike some other books that I own, none of the songs included in this book feel like they are way beyond my limits. Right now, I consider my playing ability to be enthusiastic beginner. I think this book is going to definitely help me grow as a player. One way that will happen is by reading the performance notes included with each song. Mark includes helpful hints and info to aid the player in learning the song.

To get an idea of what you can look forward to by buying this book, Mark includes on his site, a link to the sheet music / tablature and .MP3 file for the song Ahi Wela from this book.

Priced at $24.95 ($19.95 for the book and $5.00 for shipping), I have found this book / CD combo to be a wonderful addition to my expanding ukulele music book collection. It’s the book that I continue to find myself revisiting to learn new songs.

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