We are pleased to offer this new 10 page PDF instructional download for the Catania 6-Note Pentatonic kalimba, aka, the Cat-6. This is a great little kalimba for children or for adults who could use a dose of simplicity in their approach to the kalimba. This download is the perfect resource to help you get started on this simple kalimba.
The instructional download uses Steve Catania's number's based system, but instead of just labelling the notes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, the notes are labelled based on their position in the scale. The major pentatonic scale skips the 4 and 7, so we label the tines 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 - with 1 representing the root and lowest note, and 8 representing the note one octave higher.
Why do we use this particular numbers based system, skipping 4 and 7? If you learn a song in this system, the numbers - 1 being the root, 3 being the third, 5 being the fifth - will be useful to you no matter what other instruments you end up playing, i.e., an introduction to the language of music. But if we were to label the tines "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6" what you would learn on this instrument would be largely peculiar to this instrument.
The music is all encoded in terms of these numbers. Following Steve Catania, we write the words to the song and place the number of each tine above the words. There is no explicit rhythmic notation, but if you are familiar with the song (and you will know most, if not all of these songs) you will find yourself just playing the correct rhythm based on the words.
The download provides 11 well-known songs that work on the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba in the standard tuning. But if you raise your E note to an F, then the F can be the root, and the low note becomes a "5" note. And why would anyone want to do something like this? Because - in this tuning we can play an additional 11 songs—and they are all here in this download, along with instructions for retuning and renumbering your kalimba.
I just gave one of these kalimbas to a 3-year-old at his birthday party. He loves to play, and so do his parents! The child only plays for a few minutes at a time so as to not hurt his thumbs. When the child grows his or her thumb nails a bit he can play for longer.
The 6-Note Catania Kalimba came into existence through a request from Elly G in BC. This is what she wrote about the 6-Note Kalimba:
Now I know why I desperately wanted a kalimba created especially for kids. I am being a kid all over again, playing the new Catania 6-Note Pentatonic kalimba. You see, when I was 10 years old I got my biggest dream, a piano, which I fell deeply in love with and still have. But no teacher came with it. I did get a used music book and, no doubt encouraged by my mother, started to pick out the notes for The Blue Danube Waltz which I eventually mastered. It was a tedious process and set me up in a very logical approach to music that, alas, stuck with me for too long.
I love being outdoors and could not exactly take my piano camping. I tried without success to play guitars, at one point took an accordion along (can you imagine?), and eventually resigned myself to doing without music around the campfire. Now, sitting under the stars, or laying back in the camp cot, I can make "my own music" on a gentle-sounding little instrument not much bigger than a harmonica. It sounds so sweet, and is so relaxing. Oh, how I would have been freed up to enjoy -- and create -- music if I'd had a "Cat-6" kalimba when I was a kid that first time.
Thank you, Steve Catania and Mark Holdaway. I hope countless kids of all ages get this instrument and have the fun I am. What an introduction to music!
Elly has been teaching kids on this kalimba, and has a few of them to sell as well. You can contact her at: ellystudio("at")shaw.ca (edit out the ("at")).
You can also get the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba at Kalimba Magic!