Christmas is upon us and if you are still missing few gifts for your loved ones, or you are completely clueless about what to buy, here are some ideas that could inspire you.
Our recommendations are for simple Christmas gifts that don’t break the bank, but can bring a lot of happiness and fun. All the recommended instruments or similar ones we own and use on a regular basis. Obviously, all are related to musicking as here at Musicably we believe that an active music making is one of the better ways how to enjoy time, whether alone, with your family or with a group of friends.
Kalimba or Thumb Piano or Mbira
A simple, but beautifully finished wooden box (soundboard) with attached metal keys (tines or prongs) that a player plucks with his or her thumbs. This instrument comes originally from Africa, where it has existed in various forms for thousands of years. A modern kalimba is usually made either with 10 or 17 keys. Tuning could be adjusted or changed with a help of a tiny hammer, usually included in the packaging. Pricing is from $30 up.
If you know how to write on your smartphone screen with thumbs, you will master playing kalimba in no time. It is so easy.
Click on the picture to find out more or to order from Amazon.
A simple metal whistle, or penny whistle with six holes, played by three fingers of each hand. Ancestors of this instrument are the oldest music instruments — bone flutes, dated back some 40,000 even 60,000 thousand years. Their variations could be found in many cultures over the world until these days. I like the way in which they use them in Ireland and the British Isles.
As this is a wind instrument, an additional benefit of playing this instrument is — blowing into it, is that it can help improve your breathing through exercising your lungs.
Pricing is between $8 and $20.
If you don’t consider kazoo with its ‘buzzing’ sound to be a musical instrument, listen to Beatles and their song Lovely Rita, or Jimi Hendrix in the Crosstown Traffic. They may had used even simpler “comb and paper” instrument, that you can put together at home for free (here is a link to the instruction). But if you prefer a more specific music instrument which is easier to use, try kazoo with similar breathing exercise benefits as the previous whistle.
Pricing is from $7 up.
Also known as a French harp, or mouth organ. This is the third wind instrument on this list which can make you exercise your breathing apparatus and benefit from that. As harmonica is capable to produce more than one tone, more experienced players can play music accompaniment along with the melody at the same time. It has been used in many music genres, including blues, country, or rock. In general there are two different types of harmonica — chromatic, that can play in different music scales, or diatonic tuned in one particular scale. I would recommend the later as it is smaller and easier to play, although for different scales you would need to buy different harmonicas.
Pricing is from $16 up.
Dulcimer or Strumstick
Guitar is a great instrument, but it takes a while to learn how to play it as it has six strings and we have only five fingers on one hand. Ukulele is smaller and simpler as it has only four strings, although that could still be too many for some. If that is your case, or if you want to get strumming a similar instrument as fast as possible, and perhaps to use only one or two fingers — check the Strumstick. It has only three strings, is small and simple, diatonic — so there are, in fact, no ‘wrong’ notes.
I prefer the Dulcimer from Seagull. Although it has four strings, the two highest strings are tuned and played together. The sound is thus fuller.
Pricing is around $150
Hang or Hand Pan
Hang is the only music instrument invented in the last hundred years, by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in Switzerland. Its metallic sound is great for meditation or moments of winding down. The price of the original instruments runs in thousands of dollars, but there is a much more affordable alternative – Steel Tongue Drum. Usually it is much smaller than the hang. You can play it with mallets or fingers and the sound is softer and higher.
Pricing is from $80, depending on the size.
The one picture here is a bigger one for $190.
I didn’t want to include many electronic or digital instruments in this gift recommendations list, as I believe that the natural acoustic instruments work the best for people, who are just about to start musicking. Still, I couldn’t exclude the modern technology completely, so following are a few instruments that require electricity to function.
This is by far the best digital Hang instrument for an iPad. The company that has produced it went out of business unfortunately. But the app is still available on the Apple App Store. So if you have an Apple iPhone or iPad, you can download it and play it using speakers or, even better, headphones. You will spend a lot of great moments musicking on the Oval Synth.
Pricing – FREE!
Digital Drum Sticks
If you are looking for a gift for a person, who is really ‘melody shy,’ or who believes that he or she doesn’t have ears for music, maybe the rhythm part would be more attractive for their musicking beginning. Sure, they could start banging on cardboard boxes or old pans. But there is a more elegant and interesting solution — digital drum sticks. They require batteries, as they have no cords or wires. Three different drum sounds are activated by motion and played through speakers on each stick. A starting drummer can drum alongside their favourite songs, while using any suitable surface.
Pricing is around $27
Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone
With the exception of the Kazoo, none of the music instruments in this list requires its user to produce any sound herself or himself. Therefore we had to include an instrument, or a device, that helps and supports singing. Our own voice is a great music instrument and its regular use has many benefits for mental and physical wellbeing of a singer. Although the current Covid pandemic rendered most of the community related singing dangerous, there is nothing what could prevent anyone singing in their own home. In such a scenario, a simple bluetooth karaoke microphone makes it way more fun as it contains also a speaker and sometimes even light effects.
Pricing is from $25 up
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links to Amazon that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full affiliate policy here.