Tips

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Mark Holdaway

Little Bits of Music – Playing Scales 1

While the scale isn’t the easiest thing to play on kalimba, you should have it at your fingertips A Box Lotus and a Regular Lotus Karimba 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

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Kalimbas in our Elders’ Hands

Have you thought about getting a kalimba for Mom or Dad? Or for yourself? A Box Lotus and a Regular Lotus Karimba We are living longer – and hopefully we are living better too. Better knowledge of health and the human body help us take better care of our bodies and minds, leading to the potential of living well as we age. But part of aging is dealing with loss. I have known elders who played violin, cello, piano, or guitar in their younger days – all physically demanding instruments. At some point, the demands of these instruments can exceed what a body has to give. When dealing with loss,

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Get a Kalimba for Yourself… and a friend

A special offer makes it easier to have oh-so-much fun together A Box Lotus and a Regular Lotus Karimba Playing the kalimba can be a profoundly personal journey. Playing takes me within myself, like taking a deep breath and diving to the bottom of a clear and peaceful pool. The diversions and annoyances of the world evaporate, leaving me with whatever problems, challenges, successes and joys that may come up between me and my kalimba. But, often, as players we like to share that deep space with another special person. A grandmother wants to play with her grandchild, or a father wants to play with his child. A high school

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Stop Fingernail Wear and Tear

Want to Nail Your Kalimba Playing? It’s All in the Keratin! Acrylic nals on my right thumb and index finger help me play The sounding of the bell is only as good as its ringer and the chime of a kalimba’s song is only as good as the nails on its player! Ready to connect with your kalimba voice? It all begins with the tips of your thumbnails. For those of you who possess the gentic code for thick tough evergrowing fingernails, we are happy for you. This tip however is for those of you whose nails just seem to break, crack, bend and shred; no matter how many vitamin

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Tambourine as a Creative Kalimba Amplifier Resonator

Double or triple your Kalimba’s volume with a tambourine Tambourine amplifier for kalimba The kalimba is naturally a very sweet and sensitive African folk instrument. It can be played for mainly personal enjoyment – in a busy, noisy world, only you may be able to hear or want to hear that soft voice of your kalimba. Yet, it doesn’t always have to be that way. There may be times you want your sound to be heard above the din of street noise, singers, or other musicians. A simple method of kalimba amplification available to almost every kalimba player’s instrument  is to partner it with a kalimba “resonator” or amplifier of

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Learn to Read Tablature – 2

Understanding ties and dots – extending the length of notes Are you having difficulty understanding note and timing symbols in the tablature? This blog post is just for you – it’s the second of our series on learning how to read kalimba tablature.  In the first post, we talked about what the “tine map” means, looked at the different types of notes and how long each kind lasts, and introduced how to understand timing and keeping time.   This installment of the multi-part series on reading tablature covers the details of the “tie” symbol (a sideways smile) and the “dot” (a dot immediately after – or “above” – any note

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Alto Exercises to Expand Your Skills, Part 2

FAST SAME-SIDE PLAYING: AN ESSENTIAL STRENGTH FOR MAKING MBIRA MUSIC ON KALIMBA These exercises will help you play traditional mbira music on the Alto kalimba   To me, traditional African mbira music is one of the best musics I have ever experienced.  I feel it’s the pinnacle of African music.  It has pure logic, with a spiritual core.  Even though its structure is many centuries old, every time I hear it, it sounds fresh and modern to me.  (You can hear two wonderful mbira songs right now by clicking in Related Articles below, on “Listen to Mark…” or the YouTube song below it.) This music is magical, speaking to a

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Easy Christmas Carols – “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” on Alto

You may be surprised – you can play this simple carol and you can read tablature! Click to download free tablature for “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” 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

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing “Mahororo” on the African Karimba – 5 / 5

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba Click to download the full PDF tablature for “Mahororo” “Mahororo” is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper “The System of the Mbira” which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades. This implies that “Mahororo” is probably one of those “old songs” – meaning it may be something like 500 – 800 years old. Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With

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