Dec. 15, 2011
Vol. 6, Num. 6
I was getting ready to go to Sarah's welcoming party. She had just become a member of Pima Friends Meeting. The Light impressed upon me to gift a kalimba to her. Sarah loves music, and this would give me a reason to see her about once a week to give her lessons. In a flash, I realized I could set up the kalimba in a one-handed manner, as Sarah mainly uses her left hand. She is now on her second kalimba, a Catania 6-Note tuned to a pentatonic scale.
Through my work with Sarah, I have written out several songs in a numbers-based system. That system works, no matter how the kalimba is laid out.
As this music comes through us as a gift of love, I make that music available for the Catania 6-Note as a free download.
(By the way, it will also work for the 8-Note kalimba or almost any kalimba if you know how to map these six notes onto your kalimba.)
We hope that some special people will experience a ray of joy from these songs.
This is a video I made of Sarah playing "Wade in the Water," a song that I hadn't realized could be played on the 6-Note, but Sarah kept asking for this song, and then I realized we could make it work. Thank you, Sarah for being a Light in my life.
Download the FREE Cat-6 Song Book PDF. Over half of the songs in this book were worked out because of playing with Sarah.
This is the tuning of Sarah's kalimba. When I say "1" or "6" in the video, those numbers refer to the tines listed below. "1" also means "Do" as in "Do Re Mi". Why doesn't the kalimba start with "1" being the lowest note? That *is* the standard tuning (C=1, D=2, E=3), but by changing E to F, the F becomes "1", the kalimba's low note is a "5", and you can play a whole bunch more songs, like "Amazing Grace" "This Little Light of Mine", "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", and, of course, "Wade in the Water".
Above is the numbers-based music for the song "Wade in the Water." In order for this system to work, you need to know how the song goes, or you will not know how long to hold each note. The kalimba tablature is a notation system that does tell you how long to hold each note, but I find that the numbers-based system is simpler and more appropriate for younger students.
We started out with the numbers written on the tines of Sarah's kalimba using a Sharpie marker. The numbers end up getting wiped off after a week or so, and it is clear that Sarah knows which tine is associated with each number, so we just leave the numbers off.
An important note about the numbers: these are the degree of the scale. There is no "4" or "7" - as it is a pentatonic scale. The low note in Sarah's tuning is the "5" because it starts on the 5th of the scale. As such, Sarah will carry the essential meaning of these notes - really, the basic intervals that all of western music is based on - beyond her kalimba lessons. I am secretly planting the seeds of music theory and ear training in her mind through our simple numbers-based kalimba lessons.
As an infant, Sarah had severe epileptic seizures that prevented her development. A surgical procedure called hemispherectomy was performed on Sarah when she was a few years old, eliminating the seizures and permitting development. Sarah is now an adult. Physically, Sarah is similar to someone who has had a stroke and is partially paralyzed on her right side. She can walk, talk, read, and write. Sarah is able to grasp objects with her right hand, which works out very well with the kalimba. Her left hand's fine motor skills are good enough to play the kalimba, from which, as you can see, she derives great joy.