Articles tagged with: Tips for Playing

17 September 2016

Why Kalimba Tablature? Greensleeves!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The tremendous assistance that kalimba tablature can provide in arranging and learning songs...plus a free CD or 25% coupon!

Why Kalimba Tablature?  Greensleeves!

I have a symbiotic relationship with kalimba tablature:  I work really hard to notate really wonderful music in tablature.  Through working on this tablature, I come to be able to play music that is more difficult and more polished than I would otherwise be able to perform.

I make kalimba tablature better, and kalimba tablature makes me better. 

To get your free Greensleeves tablature PDF, which will work for 8-Note, Alto, or Bb Treble kalimbas, click the image above.

04 September 2016

Practice TIP: Play With Your Eyes Closed!

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

Playing without looking helps you improve in so many ways

Practice TIP: Play With Your Eyes Closed!

Part of what is so great about playing the kalimba is that it is all right there in front of your eyes.   You can see the entire instrument, all its notes, all that it can do, in one glance.  You might not understand it yet, but you can easily see that it is understandable.  Map the shorter kalimba tines to higher notes and the lower tines to lower notes.  Simple, right?

But an even more important tip I can give you is to NOT look at the kalimba as you play.

In this tip we are going to discuss what playing without looking will do for you.

24 August 2016

The Brain and the Kalimba - 2

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

Can you really pay attention to two things at once? You can, but it's a skill you have to cultivate

The Brain and the Kalimba - 2

When I was 24, I finally learned how to talk and play guitar at the same time.  Until then, when playing guitar, I could hear what was being said, and could understand it, but I could not speak or even answer simple questions. 

Why could I not speak and play guitar at the same time?  I suppose the "music generation" part of my brain overlapped too much with the "speech generation" part of my brain. 

And how, exactly, did I learn to speak and play at the same time?  And what does that have to do with the kalimba?

23 August 2016

The Brain and the Kalimba - 1

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

They say you can only think of one thing at a time - kalimba requires you to think of two things at a time!

The Brain and the Kalimba - 1

When I was 10 years old, my father said "I'll give you a dollar if you can go 10 seconds without thinking of a brown bear!"  I jumped up from the dinner table, went to stand in the corner, and started chanting "White bear! White bear!" and got a huge laugh from my whole family.

But truth be told?  I was actually thinking of brown bears the entire time I was trying to fill my mind with images and words of white bears.

Playing kalimba is a lot like that - thinking of white bears and brown bears at the same time.

20 August 2016

Practice TIP: Structure vs Play - 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Structure grounds and binds you to a song or tradition. Play sets you free.

Practice TIP: Structure vs Play - 1

Most people who pick up a kalimba will have an experience rich in play.

There is always a little tug of war going on between structured playing - learning what other people have done on the kalimba between the present and 1000 years before now, or figuring out your own song in a detailed manner, and free play - just playing what comes into your head, or more likely, what your thumbs decide to do.

My best playing and my best experiences occur when I am able to balance structure and freedom.

20 August 2016

Practice TIP: Make it Fun!

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

If playing kalimba is fun, you will want to do it more

Practice TIP: Make it Fun!

There are many different ways to practice kalimba, and you should find the way that makes you happy.  Don't worry about the "right" way, but do search for the way that is right for you.

Everybody plays a bit differently, and everyone learns in different ways.  You do want a challenge so that you feel you are getting better, but you don't often want something that is so challenging that it is not fun.

I share some of the ways that I practice kalimba, and rate them by how fun I find them to be.

17 August 2016

Practice TIP: Explore The Notes That Aren't There

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

... you can hear them in your head even though they were not played

Practice TIP: Explore The Notes That Aren't There

Your ear is the best tool you have for progressing in music. While most people I know could not tell you why something in music is wrong, almost everyone will have a clue that something is wrong, because they hear it as sounding odd or incorrect. Rely upon your ear to guide you, and always ask: "Does this sound right?"

When I play, the "ear" in my head is also at work in a different direction - I actually hear notes that I did not play. It is like my soul or my mind is reaching out for a more perfect music, reaching out beyond the notes I played. This is how new music comes into being - it's creation happening - and there are lots of considerations in getting to the place where it happens for you too.

16 August 2016

Practice TIP: Explore Your Kalimba

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

...but you need to do more than just explore

Practice TIP: Explore Your Kalimba

Welcome to your kalimba.  Based on the tuning and the note layout of your instrument, your kalimba represents a whole continent of sounds and musical possibilities, and it is well worth exploring it in depth.

When I started playing kalimba in 1986, there was no map to this continent.  There was no internet, and seemingly no information about the kalimba.  What did I do?  I explored my kalimba on my own, gradually learning more and more each day I played.

03 August 2016

Practice TIP: Progressive Sound Recordings of "Kuzanga" - an mbira song

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This electronic recording breaks the song into small pieces and starts slow

Practice TIP: Progressive Sound Recordings of

One of the best ways to learn to play is by playing with someone else. If you don't actually have someone else to who knows the song to play along with, another way is to play along with a recording of the song you are trying to learn.

Here we present something new in terms of Kalimba Magic instructional materials - the mbira song "Kuzanga" played progressively - meaning at first very slowly and speeding up gradually to help in learning to play. Also, the song is broken up into sections, which are later combined.

The way I learned this song initially was by listening to KTabS performing the segments at progressively faster speeds, and I thought I would share this with the world to see if it was useful to anyone else. By the way, the recording is in the key of E (Erica Azim's preferred key for her mbiras - which have a low note of B - but this piece is in the key of E).

02 August 2016

Practice TIP: Marking your Mbira

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

I mark key root notes with different colors - and this works on other instruments too!

Practice TIP: Marking your Mbira

The mbira dzavadzimu is one of the pinnacles of the traditional African lamellaphones (thumb pianos), and its music is rich and sweet.  I consider the mbira and its music to be the highest intellectual wonder of ancient Africa.  And we can learn to play this venerable music today in our modern world.

I have a confession to make: while I easily picked up the kalimba and taught myself to play, I have had a very difficult time with the mbira.  I bought my first mbira more than 15 years ago, and while I tried many times, I could not even get started on this difficult instrument.

But something has changed, and I am suddenly progressing quickly on this instrument that eluded me for so long.

 

27 July 2016

Practice TIP: Play Every Day

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

20 Minutes a Day - You can make this a spiritual practice

Practice TIP: Play Every Day

You can spend 20 minutes a day doing any one particular activity, and you will get better at it.  If you did yoga for 20 minutes a day, your strength, flexibility, and balance would improve.  If you ran for 20 minutes a day, your cardiovascular function and physical stamina would improve.  If you meditated for 20 minutes a day, your level of insight and your outlook would probably improve.

What if you played kalimba for 20 minutes a day, every day?

I myself sometimes have difficulty finding the time to play kalimba every day, but when I do play every day, my life is better.  I am challenging myself, and I am challenging you: can we play kalimba for 20 minutes each day?