The kalimba is currently gaining more popularity than ever thanks to viral videos featuring the instrument on platforms such as Youtube and TikTok. With more and more people wanting to learn how to play this beautiful instrument, one of the first questions that come to mind for many is “is the Kalimba easy to learn?”
The Kalimba is a surprisingly easy instrument to learn. In fact, the kalimba is widely considered to be one of the easiest instruments to learn in the world, making it an ideal choice for beginners. What makes the kalimba so accessible to beginners is its low cost, small handheld design, and how easy it is to make great music from the start.
Let’s look at the most notable reasons why the kalimba is such an easy instrument to learn!
Why is the Kalimba So Easy to Learn?
Chances are if you’re reading this article, this may be the first time you have ever heard of a kalimba! It may help to learn exactly what a kalimba is before going forward.
Up to speed? Great! Let’s find out why the kalimba is so easy to learn.
The kalimba is quite an uncomplicated instrument, especially when compared to other instruments.
It doesn’t involve learning a series of complicated chords, scales, or music theory to begin making music, unlike instruments such as the guitar, piano, or violin for example. Instead, the kalimba only requires the player to pluck tines with their thumbs to instantly start creating sound.
As the kalimba is often tuned to a major key, no matter what tines are plucked, often the resulting sound is quite pleasant, which can be very encouraging to beginners.
This is why a lot of instrument beginners are drawn to the kalimba, they don’t have to learn music theory, just how to pluck the tines (keys) on the instrument.
It’s Quite Small
The kalimba consists of a relatively small wooden or acrylic block with the tines/keys attached to it. It is played while holding it in both hands, unlike guitars that go across your body or pianos that require you to sit in front of it.
This handheld size makes it very accessible for beginners. It is easy to carry around and it doesn’t take up much space in your home.
Many find traveling up and down a long set of piano keys or a long neck of a guitar cumbersome- especially if you have short arms or small hands. The size of the kalimba makes it more accessible to people that may find the larger size of other instruments daunting.
The Tines are Simple
The kalimba only has so many “tines” (keys) to play with. Kalimbas most often come in sets of 6, 8, 12, or 17 tines (although there are varieties of kalimba with many tines more than this!)
As alluded to earlier, this limited set of tines, all tuned to one key, makes it very easy to play notes and chords that instantly sound pleasant to the ear.
Conversely, though, this does mean that you can’t play super complicated songs on it, especially if you don’t have many tines on the instrument. If you’re trying to play a complicated classical song on the kalimba, for example, you’ll likely have to omit notes or alter the song itself to get it to work on the kalimba.
While people with a lot of experience playing instruments may find this a little frustrating, it’s a breath of fresh air for beginners who don’t know much about it and are looking to start completely fresh.
The kalimba is an extremely inexpensive instrument to play. While this might not necessarily make the kalimba easier to play, it certainly makes it more accessible because it is an easy instrument to get your hands on.
Of course, high-end, professional kalimbas will cost close to $100 or more. But for the majority of beginners, an average, middle-end kalimba will suit your purposes just fine for around $20. Indeed, all the kalimbas I currently own are on the lower end of the price scale and I am very happy with them.
That makes the kalimba a much smaller investment than a several-hundred-dollar guitar or even a several-thousand-dollar piano counterpart!
Now, with all of this said, the kalimba is clearly easier to learn than many other instruments, for most people it should even be possible to learn a simple song right out of the box! At the same time, however, you must remember that if you want to play complicated songs quickly, like any other instrument, it will still take a lot of time and practice to master.
How Do I Start Learning Kalimba?
Now that you’re undoubtedly hooked on the idea of learning the kalimba, you’ll want to know exactly how to start learning.
Most kalimbas will come with a booklet which should demonstrate the basics as well as some beginner-friendly songs to learn.
Online resources will be the number 1 method for many, and indeed, this was how I first started learning to play the kalimba. One of the first places to start is right here at Saorsa Music! I recommend learning to read kalimba tabs as this will open up so many opportunities to learn new songs.
Once you know how to read kalimba tabs, why not try and learn a few songs! Check out 5 of the easiest songs to play on kalimba to get started.
Another option you have is YouTube. Youtube is an excellent resource for those that prefer to learn visually, and there are several great channels. Why not subscribe to the Saorsa Music Youtube channel? You will find lots of helpful video tutorials there to teach you your first songs!
Lastly, you can pay for private, in-person, or online lessons with a real instructor. As you would expect, this will cost a bit of money (especially compared to the cost of the instrument itself), but if you prefer the one-on-one attention and assistance from an experienced instructor who can give you personally catered advice, you might find it worth it.
Search online for kalimba instructors in your area to see what’s available to you.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways you can choose to learn the kalimba based on your priorities and preference.
Thankfully, it is definitely not hard to learn the kalimba (while mastering it will, of course, take much time and practice.)
Thanks to its uncomplicatedness and simplicity, small size, and wonderful price point, the kalimba is an accessible and easy instrument to learn for anyone, regardless of prior musical experience. Look for free kalimba lesson resources online on sites such as YouTube, or check out instructors in your area for private lessons. Good luck and happy playing!