Articles tagged with: Beginner

10 March 2019

Finally! A Hard Copy Book for the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The "44 Beginner Songs" Book is a Printed, Paper Version of the Popular 44-Songs Download

Finally! A Hard Copy Book for the 17-Note Kalimba in C

People have been asking me for a hard copy book for the newly popular 17-Note Kalimba in C - the new kalimbas that have been made in China over the last 18 months. These are sold under a variety of names, including Donner, Walter, Gecko, and Heart-17, but all of these are essentially the same instrument, with the same number of tines and the same note layout.  In other words, all of these kalimbas can use the same book.

That book is "44 Beginner Songs for the 17-Note Kalimba in C." This hard copy book has the same material as the ebook download of the same name.

If you have been waiting for a book for your 17-Note Kalimba in C, this is it!

25 March 2019

Kalimba Americana for Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Play favorite folk and popular music on your Alto kalimba!

Kalimba Americana for Alto Kalimba

This is the music I grew up with - the American song book! These are some of the songs that bind us together as citizens of the great American experiment. To many of us, this is some of the sweetest music in the world!

This 54-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 29 different versions of 25 different songs. This book has enough easy songs to have a beginner playing right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you working for months or longer!

11 March 2019

How does the Kalimba Relate to the Piano?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The kalimba's unique note layout really affects the music it makes

How does the Kalimba Relate to the Piano?

A customer recently asked:

"I am having a lot of trouble playing my kalimba. I took piano lessons as a child for three years and I think this is the trouble. Is there a tip to help me make sense of reading the kalimba music as opposed to reading piano music?"

The kalimba and the piano are very different instruments! Two big differences between them are that the kalimba only has a small subset of the notes the piano has, and the notes on the kalimba are arranged in a way that is fundamentally different from the arrangement on the piano.

While the general music introduction you got from piano lessons will be helpful on your kalimba journey, the specific muscle memory (and the way you think about reading and playing music) that you developed from playing piano is pretty much irrelevant to playing the kalimba.

07 February 2019

33 Intermediate Songs: A Download for 17-Note Kalimba in C

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Classical - African - Americana - Spirituals - And more!

33 Intermediate Songs: A Download for 17-Note Kalimba in C

Learn to play kalimba like a pro, by learning from a pro - that's me, Mark Holdaway!

If you have been working your way through the "44 Beginner Songs" download, then "33 Intermediate Songs" is the next purchase to continue your progress.

This 82-page single PDF download contains the kalimba tablature for all of the songs, and live links to enable you to download the sound recordings I have made to demonstrate each song.

Says one recent happy customer: "I am very impressed with the quality of the ebook I just purchased. With every encounter I am amazed at the amount of work - and care - you put into every single step. The amount charged is beginning to look like a mere pittance in relation to the time and effort you must have expended. Thank you for everything. You are an extraordinary teacher!"

07 February 2019

My Personal Experience Using Alaska Piks

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

I learned so much from dealing with a recently broken thumb nail

My Personal Experience Using Alaska Piks

Don't you hate it when people write about an experience as if they have had it, when they haven't? OK, that was me last month, but I got religion in recent weeks.

Last month I wrote a blog post on how to fine tune your Alaska Piks to your thumb. This month I broke a thumb nail, but I was obliged to play kalimba anyway... Let's just say I now have a whole lot more useful information on using Alaska Piks with the kalimba. And lots of illustrations!

So, if you want the skinny on how to REALLY use Alaska Piks on your kalimba, karimba, or mbira, proceed!

11 January 2019

New Easy-to-use Download for 17-Note Kalimba in C

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

44 Beginner Songs Replaces Clunky 66-Song Download

New Easy-to-use Download for 17-Note Kalimba in C

At the end of last summer, Amazon sales of inexpensive Chinese-made 17-Note kalimbas tuned to the key of C started to spike. These kalimbas were delivered to people with either a short instructional manual in Chinese, or no instructions at all. Peeved customers who bought from Amazon found me, vented their frustrations, and begged me for an English version of the short Chinese manual.

Of course, I saw a great opportunity. I shot from the hip and made a "primitive" Zip file download for the 17-Note in C from an earlier version of "66 Songs" for a different kalimba. But a significant fraction of those who have purchased this Zip download have trouble a) finding the download button, and b) dealing with ZIP files.

With this new single PDF download, "44 Beginner Songs for the 17-Note Kalimba in C," I have eliminated the customer's need to deal with a ZIP file. You will, however, still need enough tech savvy to be able to find the download link in your Kalimba Magic email invoice. If not, there is always email.

12 January 2019

Why Kalimba Tablature?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

And what about staff notation for a kalimba?

Why Kalimba Tablature?

Recently, Lilly wrote to Kalimba Magic:

"I am experienced with reading standard staff musical notation, and I don't really like the kalimba tablature, and I don't understand why you use it. Can I just read staff notation with my kalimba? Please give me the main advantage to using tablature to notate kalimba music."

Yes, Lilly, I think there are some really big advantages to using kalimba tablature rather than staff notation. Consider kalimba tablature to be my chosen way of expressing my 33 years of kalimba-playing experience to you. It is a doorway to my kalimba-playing thought process.

06 January 2019

Using Alaska Piks on Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

If you don't have much thumb nail, these inexpensive piks can help

Using Alaska Piks on Kalimba

When I would teach large kalimba classes in the past, one of the supplies I had to bring with me was the Alaska Pik. If you have no thumb nails, plucking the kalimba's metal tines can be painful. Eventually, novice players will either grow their thumb nails or develop calluses on the playing surface of their thumbs. Until then, or in emergencies, the Alaska pik can be a life saver!

Ken Purcell, the inventor of Alaska piks, was vacationing in Alaska when he got the idea for his PVC guitar piks. While they were initially designed for guitar finger pickers, the piks also work great on kalimba players' thumbs. I always carry a set of three piks with me in case I break a nail or two before a gig. I carry three piks in case I step on one!

28 November 2018

Easy Christmas Music for Treble Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

All your holiday favorites, arranged for the Hugh Tracey Treble in G

Easy Christmas Music for Treble Kalimba

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba in G. We started with a set of generic arrangements, but refined several of them so all the songs are comfortable and easy to play on the 17-Note Hugh Tracey Treble kalimba.

I have been playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba for 20 years. Not only is it a fine way to learn your kalimba, working on songs you already know. It is also a fantastic way to cultivate feelings of joy and gratitude during the lead-up to the holiday season. It is also a great way to share joy with other people in your life.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 32 different versions of 28 different carols. This book has enough easy songs to have you playing carols right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you learning and playing carols each holiday season for years!

26 November 2018

What Colors Are Available for Painting Kalimba Tines?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

a profusion of possible colors!

What Colors Are Available for Painting Kalimba Tines?

Come with me for a moment, to stand behind Hugh Tracey, circa 1952. For years before he began selling his kalimbas, Dr. Tracey worked at perfecting a new kalimba invention, creating over 100 prototypes, experimenting with various design features. When he finally settled on what worked and sounded best for his Treble kalimba, he had really accomplished a tremendous feat. Hugh Tracey kalimbas still look almost exactly as they did in 1954, when he started selling them to the world, and many kalimba makers across the globe copy the Hugh Tracey Treble design. Hugh Tracey's work is the standard by which modern kalimbas are judged.

One very significant change that Dr.Tracey made to traditional African instruments was to paint every third tine on his kalimba. Why? To help you find your way on its 17 otherwise indistinguishable tines.

Hugh Tracey kalimbas generally come with just RED or BLUE painted tines. But Kalimba Magic offers you LOTS MORE CHOICES...  including BLACK and _______.

09 November 2018

Easy Christmas Music: 17-Note Kalimba in C

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

All your holiday favorites, arranged just for your kalimba

Easy Christmas Music: 17-Note Kalimba in C

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the 17-Note kalimba in C.

I have been playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba for 20 years. Not only is it a fine way to learn your kalimba, working on songs you already know. It is also a fantastic way to cultivate feelings of joy and gratitude during the lead-up to the holiday season. It is also a great way to share joy with other people in your life.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 32 different versions of 28 different carols. This book has enough easy songs to have you playing carols right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you learning carols each holiday season for years!

16 November 2018

Easy Christmas Music for Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

All your holiday favorites, arranged for the 15-note Alto in G

Easy Christmas Music for Alto Kalimba

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba in G. We started with a set of generic arrangements, but refined several of them so all the songs are comfortable and easy to play on the 15-Note Alto.

I myself have been playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba for 20 years. Playing carols is a fine way to learn your kalimba, working on songs you already know. It is also a great way to learn about classical harmony. Playing carols is a fantastic way to cultivate feelings of joy and gratitude during the leadup to the holiday season. It is also a great way to share joy with other people in your life.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 32 different versions of 28 different carols. This book has enough easy songs to have you playing carols right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you learning carols each holiday season for years!

15 October 2018

Why Are Some of the Tines Colored?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The Top Five Reasons Why

Why Are Some of the Tines Colored?

My idea of kalimba playing perfection is being able to know exactly where every tine is on my kalimba without looking. To be able to leap across from one side to the other, or to be able to jump large intervals from a low tine to a high tine... perfectly! To be able to play amazingly, quickly, accurately, and crisply, all by feel and memory.

Ah, it's a lovely dream. But after playing for 32 years, I still like to rely on visual cues to help me keep my place and find my way on the kalimba.

This blog post describes five different ways in which painted tines can help you play better kalimba.

18 October 2018

Easy Christmas Music for 10-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is Perfect for the Beginning Kalimba Player

Easy Christmas Music for 10-Note Kalimba

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the 10-Note kalimba in C.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 28 different carols. Now that is quite something, really... so few notes and such a huge repertoire! Read on to find my secret technique for expanding the range of this tiny instrument. This book has enough to keep you learning carols each holiday season for years!

07 November 2017

Easy Alto Download

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This tired old download just got a total rewrite

Easy Alto Download

There are three resources that I have recommended to beginning Alto players: the Alto Fundamentals Book, the Alto Primer, and the Easy Alto Download. I include a free, paper Primer when people purchase an Alto kalimba. The Alto Fundamentals Book is sold only as a hard copy. And the Easy Alto Download, though electronic, used to resemble a pile of music dropped into your lap with little instruction by your crazy uncle. Until now.

I am happy to announce the NEW and GREATLY IMPROVED Easy Alto Download!

If you purchased the Easy Alto Download in the past two years, you can get the new version for free. If you didn't, think about buying the brand new download now. It would be an excellent investment.

09 November 2017

There is Music Everywhere

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Customer Linda Hears that Music

There is Music Everywhere

Linda called me one afternoon earlier this year to order a kalimba - she wanted the pentatonic kalimba. She wanted this kalimba not just for herself - she really wanted to pass this kalimba on to her son and grandchild when she was gone.

"There is music EVERYWHERE! I see and hear music just everywhere. In the evening, I hear the music on the breeze, and see the music of the stars, and the song of the clouds as they blow in and cover the stars, and blow out again to release the stars.

And I want the kalimba to bring that music to life."

30 September 2016

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 3

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Yes, but what if you don't feel like using your right index finger? You can use the thumb slide-off technique!

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 3

I find the addition of the right index finger to the two thumbs to be essential to playing African music, and in expanding the capabilities of kalimbas in general.  However, it typically feels unnatural at first, no matter which approach you take.  A great many people resist using their (non-thumb) fingers on these instruments.

If you just don't want to (or cannot) use a forefinger, what are you to do?

22 September 2016

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 2

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The "karimba style" use of the right index finger puts it over the top of a tine, plucking down

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 2

How do you play the kalimba?  Mainly, you use your two thumbs, but you should not overlook the fingers.  It turns out there are multiple ways to use the right index finger, and you can adapt these techniques to a wide variety of kalimbas.

15 September 2016

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The "mbira style" use of the right index finger puts it under the tine, flicking upward

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 1

How do you play the kalimba? It's a thumb piano, so mainly you use your two thumbs!  The Brazilian masters like to use four or six fingers, playing the kalimba as it sits in their lap - but I don't teach that style. That's because my kalimba playing is a lot about movement of the body while playing, and if you hold the kalimba in your hands and play with your thumbs, you can get up and walk, run, or dance as you play.  Or at the very least, just move around a bit with the music.

The right index finger, however, is a special case, part of the venerable African mbira and karimba traditions, and we will consider it right now.

09 August 2016

TIP: Kalimba Playing Techniques - Glissando

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The glissando permits you to play a chord of three or four notes

TIP: Kalimba Playing Techniques - Glissando

Not all kalimbas are laid out in the same way, but a lot of kalimba makers follow the lead of Hugh Tracey in laying out the notes to require an alternating left-right pattern to go up or down the scale.  If you have an alternating note layout, two or three adjacent notes on one side of the kalimba will sound great together.

This is a chord - at least three adjacent notes.  Easy!

But how should one play three or more notes simultaneously on a kalimba?

11 August 2016

TIP: Playing the Alto Kalimba - Easy Alto

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

A download and some free tablature

TIP: Playing the Alto Kalimba - Easy Alto

I admit it - I got carried away with my tip on the traditional mbira song "Kuzanga" arranged for the Alto kalimba.  That is a challenging piece, but I know at least one person who will rise to that challenge - hopefully many more.

Now, let's do something that might be of interest to just about everyone - easy music for the alto kalimba.

13 November 2017

On "Just" tuning and A = 432 Hz

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

An Easy Way To Do It, Even If You Don't Do Math

On

"Just" intonation is tuning based on the notion that ratios of frequencies should be ratios of simple whole numbers. That is a complicated way of saying: the distance between notes in a scale should be simple. And it turns out the ear agrees: "just" intervals sound more pleasing than what your $20 digital tuner or your cell phone app will lead you to tune.

We'll explain a simple way you can get most of the benefit of a just tuning.

Oh, and 432 Hz? We'll talk about that too. While I understand 432 has some avid proponents, I myself do not perceive any musical or therapeutic benefit to a 432 Hz reference compared to a 440 Hz reference, but we'll explain how to do that too.

27 March 2019

EZ Numbers-Based eBook for Almost Any Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Give the new eBook a Test Drive for Free

EZ Numbers-Based eBook for Almost Any Kalimba

My gift to the kalimba world is kalimba tablature. It is expressive and elegant. It can display any sort of music, and it reflects my internal conceptualization of the kalimba and its music.

However, not everyone likes my vertical tablature.

If the tablature is too much for you, you might want to try the Numbers-based approach.

Soon, I am going to have a full length Numbers-based book available for sale. Until then, I offer you this short "demo version" of the book for free.

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 1

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

While the scale isn't the easiest thing to play on kalimba, you should have it at your fingertips

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 1

The notes your kalimba plays are probably just like the white notes on the piano. However, the way you play them ends up being totally different from a piano... because the notes are organized differently than on a piano.

Playing a scale on a piano, especially just on the white notes, is quite easy.

Playing a scale on the kalimba is a bit harder, but the scale is one of the most useful bits of music you can learn - so please do learn these scales!

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