"Learning to play kalimba," says Andrew Tracey, son of Hugh Tracey, who in the 1950's created and gave the world a kalimba that the western ear could understand, "is best done by learning from someone who knows how to play kalimba." But what if you don't know anyone who plays the kalimba?
How to learn on your own
There are great resources for beginners and advanced players alike in the How to Play pages for each kalimba. These resources are available as either hard copy books or electronic downloads (e-books or zip files).
To illustrate kalimba tablature, books and downloads have KTabS diagrams; downloads also use KTabS files, which require either the free KTabS reader or the full KTabS program.
KTabS is a wonderful program specific to kalimba music, available for $30, that enables you to hear a song and see it as it plays, much as you would if you looked over the shoulder of a kalimba teacher. KTabS also gives you the ability to loop, change tempo, and to edit in many exciting and powerful ways. It is a fantastic value, and might make the difference between having your kalimba be a coffee table ornament and having it as a close buddy with which you make gorgeous music. To get my instructions, tips and suggestions on the best use of KTabS, see this page.
To demonstrate how music sounds, downloads have mp3 files; books allow you to hear the music by supplying a CD or a URL from which you can download the mp3 files. Downloads also have KTabS files and to read/hear these, you need either the free KTabS reader or the full KTabS program.
Clicking on any of the specific kalimbas listed below will bring you to a comprehensive list of instructional materials for that instrument. Clicking on each item in that list will show, just below the list, a photo and description of the item and a link if you want to purchase it.
- Alto kalimba
- Treble kalimba
- African-tuned karimba
- Student karimba
- exotic Sansula
- Pentatonic kalimba
- 8-Note kalimba
- 12-Note kalimba
- Thomas Bothe 2B/9 and 2B/14 kalimbas
- Chromatic kalimba
You'll be coming back to learn from this material for weeks or months to come.
If you are an advanced player, you may be interested in learning about playing the kalimba with amplification. The inexpensive pickups that are an option for Hugh Tracey kalimbas will help you play with a loud band at performances; and they can facilitate adding cool digital effects as well as help you with recording.
If you would like some very basic instruction on how to get started on the kalimba, go to Fundamentals of the Kalimba.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun on your journey!