Feb. 19, 2011

Vol. 6, Num. 2

Kalimba Magic NEWS

Kalimba Chordal Choirs in Music Education
Ages 5-105

5-Note Chordal Kalimbas can be used in early education.

In early February, I had the opportunity to make a kalimba presentation to the Arizona Music Educators Association at their annual conference in Mesa, AZ.

I had actually sent the AMEA several messages over the years, and I guess they wrote me off as a weirdo kalimba player or something (which would be accurate).

But last year, as I was playing kalimba while walking down the street near the University of Arizona after meeting my son for lunch, a woman came running out of her house. She was amazed at the music this little box was making. Her name was Gloria, and it turns out she was a past president of the AMEA, and she told me that I should apply again to do a presentation at the AMEA. I did apply, and apparently the guy who was screening the applications for presentations called Gloria to find out "What should I do with THIS odd proposal?" and she said "Go for it!"

I don't mean to ruffle the feathers of the AMEA, but I DO mean to illustrate to you the way things work in the world. The kalimba is weird and off the wall, and most people don't know anything about it. When you try to get kalimba gigs, you might be talking to someone who thinks the kalimba is in the same category as the plastic flutophone or the 8-note colored xyolophone with wheels and a string. Sometimes it takes persistence - or in my case, dumb luck - to get past the gatekeepers.

OK, all that whining aside, I am not exactly credentialled for making a presentation to music educators. My presentation lists me as "Mark Holdaway, PhD", and then I add that I have never taken a university level music class, and my PhD is in physics. But my elementary school music teacher Miss Larson was really very good.

That said, I think I have some great ideas for how to use the kalimba as an educational tool. One of them is in the video above. Believe it or not, those music educators in my two presentations (a presenter got sick, and I got to do a second one later in the afternoon) absolutely loved playing with the chordal kalimba choirs. And I had a great time working with these music educators from across the state of Arizona. I hope to be coming back to next year's AMEA meeting - assuming I didn't just alienate the AMEA brass.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use the kalimba in the classroom, I offer you this Music Educators' Handout for Using the Kalimba in the Classroom.

And of course, let's not forget the Kalimba History Handout for Black History Month!

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