01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 6

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The fourth intervals

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 6

This is an exercise which uses the "fourth" intervals (ie, they span 4 notes) on the lower row of karimba tines. Again, be sure that you are starting on the right two notes. You may want to go back to the previous tip and see how the "thirds" sound compared to the "fourths". My take on it: the third intervals sound more European, and the fourth intervals sound more African. Of course, it really isn't that simple - both European and African music use both 4ths and 3rds, but I think the way the 4th sounds is itself more African, and the way the 3rd sounds is more European.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 7

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Right thumb backup for Left Thumb improvisation

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 7

These two-note chords can be played by the right hand. The main reason to play entirely with the right hand is that this frees up the left hand to dance on that pentatonic scale.

In order to play these two notes with the right hand, play the left note with your right thumb and the right note with your right index finger. The thumb will pluck down, and the right index finger will actually come from under the tine and it will pluck upward.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 8

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

We have arrived at the right thumb part

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 8

Each of these two-note chords is played with the right thumb and right index finger. In going from one chord to the next, you only move the thumb or the index finger, not both. You only ever move by one tine. See the pattern? The right finger usually stays on A, but shifts to G# on the last measure. The right thumb (ie, the left note) usually stays on E, but shifts to F# on the second measure.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 9

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

A left thumb suggestion

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 9

The goal here is for you to play the right thumb's two-note chord part more or less as written, and to invent your own left thumb part. You may have already been successful with this, or you might feel you have no clue of what to do. If the latter is true, here is a left thumb suggestion for you.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 10

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Another left thumb suggestion, same right thumb pattern

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 10

Our objective with these lessons is to give you the tools, understanding, and confidence to improvise with your left thumb while the right thumb "holds down the fort". Here is another suggestion for the type of thing your left thumb could do. The first three measures are almost the same for the left thumb - measure 1 goes up the scale fragment, measure 2 goes down the scale fragment, and measure 3 goes back up. Measure 4 on the left is different, emphasizing B as the first and last note of the little phrase. Again, B is a good note to play here as the right hand is playing a partial E chord.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 11

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Left thumb dancing in the upper notes

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 11

Our objective with these lessons is to give you the tools, understanding, and confidence to improvise with your left thumb while the right thumb "holds down the fort". Here is another suggestion for what your left thumb can do - dance in the upper row notes, and between the upper and lower row notes.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 12

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Starting to branch out

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 12

You are by no means confined to exactly what we have written down. You can change it up in a thousand different ways to make it your own. Here is a very simple example: instead of playing the chord in each measure twice, this one plays each chord only once, on the opening beat of each measure. Furthermore, the left thumb plays with the right thumb on the opening chords. This complexity is somewhat compensated for by the fact that the right side is doing the same pattern three out of four times.

10 January 2016

TIP: Playing Patterns in DIfferent Octaves

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

An upper octave pattern can be shifted to the lower octave, but it's handedness is reflected

TIP: Playing Patterns in DIfferent Octaves

This is something important to understand.  Just because you can play a pattern in one octave doesn't mean that it will be easy in the other octave, because it will be a mirror image of the other octave's pattern.  Strangely, your brain may have to totally relearn the phrase in a different octave in spite of the similarities in the music.

10 January 2016

TIP: Playing the Scale - in Octaves

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Because two notes separated by an octave are on opposites sides of the kalimba, you can play them at the same time!

TIP: Playing the Scale - in Octaves

The two previous tips illustrated how to play the upper octave G major scale and the lower octave G major scale on the Alto kalimba.   This tip combines the upper and lower scales and plays them at the same time.

10 January 2016

TIP: Playing the Scale - A Lower Octave

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

TIP: Playing the Scale - A Lower Octave

Many kalimbas - such as the Alto, the Treble, and the Pentatonic 11-Note kalimbas - have a range of two or more octaves.  In my mind, this is where the playing really gets to be interesting.  This tip relates the lower octave scale to the upper octave scale on the Alto kalimba.

12 January 2016

TIP: Playing the Scale

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

For many kalimbas, you play the scale by alternating L-R-L-R and moving outward

TIP: Playing the Scale

The alternative left-right pattern required to make a scale is one of the essential movements you can make on your kalimba, and you should learn this!  On the kalimba, scales are not the easiest thing to do because you need to cross over from one side of the kalimba to the other, and you need to do so without loosing your place.  However, there is a trick.

11 January 2016

TIP: Stopping the tines

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Usually when you pluck a tine, it sustains for about 5 seconds - but you can put a stop to that!

TIP: Stopping the tines

One of the charms of the kalimba is how the tines ring clearly and slowly fade away.  You cannot control exactly how long the tone will last, it has its own natural decay, like plucking a strong on a harp.  Playing kalimba is a bit like playing piano with the damper open.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

06 December 2015

TIP: Using the How-to-Play Pages

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Each kalimba we sell has its own How-to-Play page. What can you expect from these pages?

TIP: Using the How-to-Play Pages

Inside the "How-to-Play" category, there are 20 sub-categories.  Several of these are general subjects that are applicable to all kalimbas, such as "Fundamentals of the Kalimba", "Thumbnail Care", and "Tuning".   We also have 13 categories dedicated to information about different kalimbas.  This tip tells you what information you will find on these pages.

06 December 2015

TIP: Learn KTabS - Kalimba Tablature Software

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

KTabS is a powerful Windows program that takes a lot of the guesswork out of writing tablature

TIP: Learn KTabS - Kalimba Tablature Software

Writing down music for kalimba can be tricky, and for a newbie to music, overwhelming.  A fabulous alternative to writing out a song by hand on blank tablature involves simply clicking the notes into a tablature template, using Windows software program KTabS (Kalimba Tablature Software).

06 December 2015

TIP: Free Blank Kalimba Tablature

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Kalimba Tablature is a powerful way to save your kalimba ideas

TIP: Free Blank Kalimba Tablature

Tablature is an alternative to staff notation. Kalimba tablature is intuitive and easy to read.  We provide blank tablature PDFs for 8-Note, 11-Note Pentatonic, 15-Note Alto, 17-Note Treble, and 17-Note Karimba.  You can download them for free, print them out, and write notes on them detailing the kalimba riffs you make up.  And if you don't understand the rules for tablature, we can help with that too!

11 December 2015

TIP: On Practicing Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

You can learn an instrument with modest daily work - but do pick it up every day

TIP: On Practicing Kalimba

The kalimba is one of those amazing instruments that magically sounds good even if you don't know what you are doing, often right out of the box.  However, if you practice, you can become really good at playing.  I have compiled some thoughts on my experience of practicing on the kalimba with the idea of helping you with your kalimba journey.

06 December 2015

TIP: Know your kalimba's tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

A kalimba's "tuning" is the set of notes the tines are tuned to

  TIP: Know your kalimba's tuning

In order to keep your kalimba tuned correctly, you need to know what its notes are supposed to sound like.  An experienced player will know the sound of each note on their kalimba by heart, and will either know which note each tine should be tuned to, or will be able to figure this out quickly.  What if you are not an experienced player?

This tip connects you with dozens of possible tunings for a dozen different kalimbas. Your tuning is probably here. The rest - becoming an expert - is up to you!

08 December 2015

TIP: Tuning Your Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Everything you need to keep your kalimba in tune

  TIP: Tuning Your Kalimba

Many people purchase kalimbas without realizing that they need to keep the kalimbas in tune.   Most kalimbas that are played daily will slowly go out of tune over a month or two, and then you need to touch up on the tuning.

This article hooks you up with all the resources you need to learn how to keep your kalimba in tune - just the way I do!

05 December 2015

TIP: Holiday deals - check out Kalimba Magic coupons!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Great prices on great kalimbas!

  TIP: Holiday deals - check out Kalimba Magic coupons!

You can get nice discounts on a wide selection of kalimbas. Visit Featured Kalimbas for coupons on everything listed there.

Also, note that there is a 25% Off Coupon good for the Dec 11-14 weekend.

14 November 2015

TIP: Straight Left-Right Playing and Syncopation

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

You can syncopate by leaving out notes

  TIP: Straight Left-Right Playing and Syncopation

The easiest thing to do when you play kalimba is to set up a regular rhythmic pattern, alternating right-left-right-left (or the opposite), but this will not result in syncopation.  Here is a quick changeup you can make to this regular pattern to create some great syncopation.

05 July 2017

Stop Fingernail Wear and Tear

Written by Juliana Rose, Posted in Tips

Want to Nail Your Kalimba Playing? It's All in the Keratin!

Stop Fingernail Wear and Tear

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 D and biotin capsules you take daily. This Tip is for you if you have been thinking of giving up the kalimba just because you weren't born with killer nails!

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