Sept. 7, 2014

Vol. 9, Num. 1

Kalimba Magic NEWS

Kalimba Contest
Your Most Amazing Kalimba Experience

Nick Strippoli, known as Kalimba Charmer on Facebook, as well as the moderator for the Kalimba and Sansula Instrument Lovers group on Facebook, asked if Kalimba Magic couldn't do another contest.

Here it is, Nick! The contest? "What is your most amazing experience playing kalimba?" Yes, that is hard, because most people who have played kalimba for a long time have had a lot of amazing experiences, and how do you pick just one?

If Kalimba Magic likes your amazing kalimba experience story and decides to post it on the Kalimba Magic Facebook page, we will send you a free kalimba CD. The post that has the most LIKES 45 days after all stories have been posted will win the author a FREE KALIMBA of your choice worth up to $160, which is the cost of the most expensive Hugh Tracey Kalimba. If you'd like a $200 Sansula or 2B kalimba, I will ask you to pay that price difference. The winner will get their chosen kalimba with free shipping anywhere in the world (Antarctica excluded).

Mark Holdaway's shadow playing light kalimba

My most amazing kalimba experience? (By the way, not quite as amazing as Rick's amazing kalimba experience, another article in this newsletter.)

I would have to say it was my first hospice gig, playing kalimba for a 92 year old woman named Ethel who had been on her death bed for 30 days. For whatever reason, she could not let go. Her family had all come down to Tucson to say "goodbye", and one by one they had all departed, going back to their busy lives. Now, Carol, a patient advocate who had been helping Ethel, called me up and asked if I could play some kalimba music for her. I found out from Carol that Ethel loved classical music, and I had just that week worked out a classical medley that included kalimba arrangements for pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Holst, and others. I couldn't come in till the end of week, but Ethel was still hanging on.

When I came in, I didn't really know what to do. Ethel could not speak. She was frail, and the only thing she could do was to keep on breathing. After an awkward beginning, I eventually felt called to place the little Hugh Tracey Bb Treble Kalimba right on her chest and play as peacefully and as beautifully as I could. Carol told me that Ethel liked me, and that I could play that close to her.

My goal was to give her something so beautiful that she might feel like it had been worth it to stick around so long for this - to give her something so wonderful that she might feel that her life was now complete - to give her something so full of light and goodness that she might feel that she was at the very gates of heaven. I listened to her labored breathing and I slowed my music down to match her breath. Her breath was the only thing she had left, and I feel we connected over that. I felt that there was light coming from my kalimba, sparks flying from the tips of my thumbs, flying around the room but especially into Ethel's heart. I played and played and played, straight from the heart, perhaps my best performance ever.

The hour passed so quickly, and soon it was time to leave. By the time I returned to my home, I had an email from Carol the patient advocate, telling me that Ethel had passed shortly after I left. She later told me: "It was a beautiful experience for me. [Ethel] was struggling to let go, [the kalimba music] helped her release that energy, and she took her journey."

Now, sometimes when playing the 88-note piano (a new instrument I studied as a prerequisite for Music Therapy) I find myself distracted or unable to pay complete attention, and the mistakes come every few seconds. When I get tired of making those mistakes, I take myself back to Ethel's room. In my mind, I am playing piano just for her, trying to give her something so beautiful that she can let go of everything and let herself pass from this life. And when I am in that space trying to connect with her and to honor her, I find that the notes come clearly and perfectly, without error, and full of spirit. What a blessing. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.


If you would like to enter the Amazing Kalimba Story contest, please SUBMIT YOUR WRITTEN STORY HERE by no later than September 20, 2014. If your story is a contender, I will reply and request a photo of you and/or your kalimba, and your mailing address so I can send you a CD. And finally, some 45 days after we post our final story, we'll announce the winner and contact you to find out what your choice of kalimba is.

If you would like to learn classical pieces on the kalimba, I invite you to check out the Classical Alto and Classical Treble books I co-wrote with Sharon Eaton of KTabS fame. The 20 pieces in this book are progressive, meaning almost everyone should be able to play the songs in the front of the book right away, and the last song - William Tell Overture - is still beyond my ability to play. (Nope, I didn't play that one for Ethel.)

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