One Music Therapist's Kalimba Journey
Part 1: Introducing Michelle Erfurt

Priority Mail from Kalimba Magic!

Last January, the Kalimba Magic newsletter sent out a call for ideas from music therapists: How do you use the kalimba in music therapy? Chosen ideas would be included in upcoming Kalimba Magic newsletters. Music therapist Michelle Erfurt responded with her idea of writing a column that would describe her own personal kalimba journey...

I'm a music therapist in southeastern Florida and have been practicing music therapy for seven years. In this kind of therapy, music is used to connect with people and teach them the skills they need to live better lives. Such skills include maintaining a steady walking gait after a stroke, learning to cope after being diagnosed with an incurable disease, understanding verbal instructions when you have a learning disability, and looking peers in the eye during social situations. Music therapy has been proven effective by research and it's a fun therapy to give as well as receive.

Opening the box
Michelle unwraps package from Kalimba Magic

Music therapy training requires proficiency in piano, guitar and voice, and knowledge of various percussion instruments - such as the kalimba. This instrument sounds and looks beautiful, but when it comes down to being used in a music therapy session, it is a complete mystery to me. Three months ago, I knew even less, including how to tune a kalimba, read kalimba tablature or know the difference between types of kalimbas.

Today, I'm playing Mark Holdaway's arrangement of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on the 8-Note Kalimba. You can view me doing this on YouTube*. But I find myself wondering, "This sounds neat, but how did I get here?" So this column will document, for me as much as anybody else, how I have begun to transition from complete kalimba novice into a music therapist who will be able to help my clients get stronger through the use of the kalimba.

—Michelle Erfurt, MT-BC

*While most of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" can be played on the 8-Note kalimba, it just doesn't have all the notes you need to play the full song. When the melody requires a note that is missing, we've taken a complimentary note that harmonizes with the melody note and keeps the rhythm going. So, Michelle isn't doing anything wrong - rather, she is working within the limitations of the instrument, playing the arrangement from the Best Ever 8-Note Kalimba Book. It is remarkable that you can play this song on only eight notes!

Opening the box

More about Michelle

I'm a music therapist, blogger, and project manager. I like to be involved in a lot of different things but, no matter what, I am grounded in my commitment to provide quality music therapy services. I have my own business, Erfurt Music Therapy, but I have also been employed by:

In addition to my website, I also have these blogs, Music Therapy Resource and Music Therapy Tween. And I have just started a Music Therapy newsletter!


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