Wild Blue Pixel
TIP OF THE DAY
Monday, December 19, 2011
If you want to teach someone to play kalimba, don't start at the university level, or even the high school level. There are so many notes on some kalimbas, it is very easy to get lost and overwhelmed. The student may stick with it, or s/he might just give up!
Here's a story that helped drive home the value of simplicity for me. Randy and Sharon Eaton are the team that produced the KTabS Software, an elegant computer implementation of my kalimba tablature. Randy is the programming engine and Sharon is the musician and spiritual advisor. KTabS was something of a silver bullet for Kalimba Magic. Using this very capable program, I can write out songs in minutes. To thank Sharon, I gave her a Hugh Tracey HotSHot-11 kalimba. Sharon had already been playing the 17-note treble and the 15-note alto kalimbas, as well as the chromatic kalimba (which she actually inspired). But she said that it was the 11-note that triggered a grand revelation about the kalimba and helped her to understand all the notes as an organic whole.
So if you are going to be teaching someone kalimba, be simple! There are at least two ways to do that. If you are teaching on a large kalimba, you can start by taping off half or more of the tines so they can't be played, or you can use a Sharpie marker to mark a subset of the notes to be played.
The other way to start out simple is to use a very simple kalimba. The following instruments are good for students starting out because they don't have too many tines:
Each of these kalimbas has instructional material available on the How to Play Kalimba pages.
And hey! If you order one of these today (Dec 19) or tomorrow (Dec 20), they can be delivered within the continental USA via priority mail before Christmas!