Articles tagged with: Christmas Carols

24 September 2018

Christmas Music Resources

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

If you want to perform some Christmas songs on kalimba, start now!

Christmas Music Resources

Over the years, we have created a lot of books, instructional materials, videos, and articles about playing Christmas music on your kalimba.

For your pre-pre-Christmas consideration, I have collected it all in one place for you. If you want to spend money, we have plenty of books and CDs for you to take advantage of. If you don't want to spend money, we have created a lot of free resources, and they are all listed here.

18 February 2017

What Are People Saying About Kalimba Magic?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Sharing some of the sweet statements we got from folks in 2016

What Are People Saying About Kalimba Magic?

I don't know exactly why I am doing this.  There may be an element of ego in reprinting my customer's (happy) comments to me.  But there is another motive here: each of these statements has love and warmth and light in it, and it just seemed a shame to keep them all locked up.   Each of these people, in some way or other, has seen me at or near my best.  These comments help tell a part of the story that normally is never shared, and I feel it would be interesting for you to see them.

So, for what it's worth, there are some nice quotes - such as (ahem)"You are truly a purveyor of magic and joy!"   Oh, I do love being the wizard.

And, among the comments sent to Kalimba Magic, I also get some unhappy messages. It is good to hear about how I can improve what I do, and I appreciate feedback that helps me take better care of my customers.

04 January 2017

Songs for the Chromatic Kalimba: "Carol of the Bells"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Finally a breakthrough! Chromatic tablature that is easy to read and understand!

  Songs for the Chromatic Kalimba:

The Chromatic kalimba is a wonderful innovation based on the standard Hugh Tracey diatonic kalimbas such as the Alto and the Treble.  Diatonic kalimbas play basically like the white notes on a piano.  As long as a song stays in key with no accidentals, you can probably play it on an Alto or Treble kalimba.  (An "accidental" is a note that is not in the key signature and requires a "flat," "sharp," or "natural" symbol.  For the kalimba, though, this is a foreign concept, as "accidental" usually means "that note isn't on the kalimba.")

If a song changes keys or has accidental notes, and you want to play it on a kalimba, you need a Chromatic kalimba, which has all the notes of the scale, not just the piano's white notes, but all the black ones too - the flats and sharps.  Hugh Tracey Chromatic kalimbas have the sharps and flats on their back sides, and the diatonic keys on the front sides.

"Carol of the Bells" is a beloved holiday song that can at best be performed in an approximate manner on the Alto kalimba, but you really need the Chromatic kalimba to get the song just right.

28 December 2016

Songs for the Karimba: Building a Karimba Song

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Learn this technique and write your own songs

Songs for the Karimba: Building a Karimba Song

The African-tuned karimba is a very interesting instrument.  Jega Tapera was a South African who played traditional music on a 13-note karimba, a historical folk instrument.  In the 1950s he was discovered by Andrew Tracey, who recognized his excellence, and Tapera subsequently began teaching at the Kwonangoma School in Rhodesia, where the 15-note version of the African-tuned karimba came into being in 1960 to further Tapera's music.  In 1980 the 17-note version was first made by Tracey's South African company, African Musical Instruments, which still sells Hugh Tracey kalimbas today.

Based on much scholarly research, Andrew Tracey put forth a very interesting theory that the karimba is very close to the "original mbira" in southern Africa, dating back over a thousand years, and that the traditional songs still played today on the karimba have roots that are equally ancient.

I find the karimba to be a great instrument, one that "speaks the African tongue."  It is easy for me to create my own African-sounding music just by following a few simple rules.  I'll share some of those with you here.

26 December 2016

Songs for the Treble Kalimba - "Silent Night"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for "Silent Night" for the Treble Kalimba

Songs for the Treble Kalimba -

In my mind, most songs that you can play on the Treble kalimba are also possible to play on the Alto kalimba, and this offers great flexibility.  But there are some songs that are written for Alto that require its low notes and are just not possible on the Treble which by nature is in a higher range.  You could retune the Treble into a Bb Treble, and then it would behave just like an Alto with two extra notes.

But there is one (very famous) song that I don't think can be done properly on either the Alto kalimba or the Bb Treble kalimba - it requires the high notes of the Treble kalimba in standard G tuning, and that song is "Silent Night."

10 December 2016

"Away in a Manger" - First learn the Easy Melody, then Add Chords. Voila!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements


Often people think of the kalimba as a very simple instrument.  However, it stands proudly with the harp, the guitar, and the keyboard as instruments that can play both a melody and musical accompaniment - in other words, you can play complex music with the kalimba.

I'd like to show you a few rules of thumb that are very useful in creating a more interesting and profound-sounding song, starting with an easy, familiar melody. It will help you know where, when and how to create simple chordal accompaniment which can very easily make your kalimba playing absolutely gorgeous.

01 December 2016

Easy Christmas Carols - "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" on Alto

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

You may be surprised - you can play this simple carol and you can read tablature!

Easy Christmas Carols -

I've heard this story from more than a hundred people by now: people had been living under the burden of the belief that they were simply unable to make music, but then they discovered the kalimba, and they discovered they could make music on the kalimba, and they were even appreciated for the music they were able to make.

If you are reading these words, you probably know you can make music.  But you might be convinced that you cannot read tablature. 

This blog post is a message to you: you CAN read tablature, and you CAN play songs that everyone around you will recognize.  And Christmas carols are the perfect place to start.

15 November 2016

Experiencing Gratitude - Walking, Kalimba, and Christmas Carols

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is the main technique I use to keep on the happy side of life

Experiencing Gratitude - Walking, Kalimba, and Christmas Carols

While I have not been diagnosed with clinical depression, I am prone to struggle with depression.   Or rather, I would struggle with depression, except that I have a powerful tool at my disposal that proves effective against depression.

Some days I wake up and tell myself I don't need my early morning walk, and on those days, I tend to take a nosedive around 9 or 10 AM.  By then, I realize that this is my wake-up call.  If I don't go out, walk, and play kalimba - for myself and for the world - then I will soon be sliding down that black hole.

As I was walking today at 9:30 - quite late for me, but in time to save the day - I was struck by a chord of gratitude for, through, and because of, my kalimba music.

18 December 2015

Free Tablature - Learn "Carol of the Bells"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free PDF and KTabS Tablature for Alto, Treble, B flat Treble, and Chromatic Kalimbas

Free Tablature - Learn

"Carol of the Bells" is not only a beautiful song that is great to learn on the kalimba, it is also a strategic stronghold of kalimba technique. The basic music consists of two different parts played at the same time, which in this case is not that hard. If you can learn this song, you will be entering the marvelous world of playing two voices of music at the same time on kalimba. Not up for heavy lifting? Please enjoy the video of me performing "Carol of the Bells" on the Alto Kalimba.