Aptly called “the thumb piano,” the kalimba is a modernized version of the mbira, a traditional African instrument. It’s an excellent instrument to take up if you’re a beginning musician. It doesn’t require difficult fingering combinations, which means you can practice the songs below and be playing them in a matter of hours.
The list below represents a compilation of some of the most popular and easy kalimba songs to play on the instrument. All songs on the list include the tabs: Most include an instructional video to go with the tabs if such a video was available.
1. Can’t Help Falling in Love (Genre: Ballad)
It seems only appropriate to kick off this list with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself, Mr. Elvis Presley. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” counts among Presley’s most famous love ballads and is a favorite of ours. It made its debut in 1961 in the film Blue Hawaii.
Here’s a video tutorial of the song, plus tabs.
2. Fly Me to the Moon (Genre: Jazz)
Frank Sinatra’s song “Fly Me to the Moon” had a different title originally: “In Other Words.” We think the title we know and love fits it better. Certainly, it fits Sinatra’s jazzy vocal style. Due to its release date in 1964, people began associating the song with the Apollo moon missions. Pretty appropriate for such a stratospheric song.
Here’s a video plus tabs.
3. Let It Be (Genre: Soft Rock/ Folk)
The Beatles, along with Presley and Sinatra, were among the biggest acts of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and this song, “Let It Be,” became a song of comfort for Beatles fans everywhere. This song debuted at #6 and represented the beginning of the end, so to speak: Paul McCartney went solo not long after its release.
Here’s a tutorial video plus tabs.
4. What a Wonderful World (Genre: Jazz/ Pop)
When you hear Louis Armstrong sing “What a Wonderful World,” you truly believe the world is a good and friendly place. Written by Bob Thiele, the song was first released in 1967 and then got attention later when it appeared in the film Good Morning, Vietnam in 1988.
5. Yesterday (Genre: Rock Ballad)
The melancholy longings of the Beatles’ song “Yesterday” get new life on the kalimba. The music-box-like sound of the instrument evokes the sweet nostalgia that we often feel when looking back on memories, making this arrangement especially nice to learn.
Find the tabs plus tutorial here.
6. Under the Sea (Genre: Showtune/ Pop)
If you didn’t walk out of The Little Mermaid humming this song, then we don’t think you saw the same movie we did. “Under the Sea” is a celebration of the sights and sounds of the world under the sea, sung by Sebastian, the crab, for Princess Ariel. As far as fun, easy kalimba songs go, it’s snappy enough to make us two-legged creatures ready for a dive down under.
Here’s a tutorial video with tabs.
7. Concerning Hobbits (Genre: Movie Showtunes)
The Lord of the Rings is a grand tale with characters worthy of an epic-sized story, including the hobbits who ultimately save Middle Earth. “Concerning Hobbits” works well as a kalimba song because the sweet melody of the song translates well to the instrument.
Here are the tabs plus the video.
8. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You (Genre: Movie Showtune )
Rocker Bryan Adams was one of the ‘90s chief players on the rock scene. “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”, a song from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, counted as a favorite ballad not only for rock fans but also for movie fans, too.
9. Toss a Coin to Your Witcher (Genre: Folk/ Showtune)
This haunting song is one of the most popular to come from The Witcher TV series. It celebrates the title character, the witcher, Geralt. The song itself mixes pop with Celtic music sensibilities, making it one catchy tune. And if you’re a fan of The Witcher series, it definitely gives you a chance to immerse yourself a bit more deeply in that world.
Here’s a tutorial video with tabs.
10. The Harry Potter Theme (Genre: Movie Soundtrack)
For Potterheads, John Williams’s theme for Harry Potter represents the magic of the movie franchise. In our opinion, this song is particularly suited for the kalimba because the original score sounds a bit like it’s being played on a music box. The kalimba has a similar sound, allowing you to more fully immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter.
Here’s a video tutorial with tabs.
11. My Heart Will Go On (Genre: Pop/ Ballad)
Made for the movie Titanic, this song became the pop love anthem of the year 1997. It went on to sell nearly 20 million copies and became the song that Celine Dion has become known for. Despite being a power ballad for Dion, it’s simple to play on the kalimba, making it an ideal practice piece for those who love ballads.
Here are the tabs and a tutorial video for the song.
12. The Sound of Silence (Genre: Folk Rock/ Movie Showtune)
Used as a narrative device to support the story of the movie The Graduate, “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel became one of the movie soundtrack’s iconic songs. As most movie buffs know, the movie follows recent graduate, Benjamin, played by Dustin Hoffman, as he navigates feelings of alienation in his life. “The Sound of Silence” became the theme song that spoke of Benjamin’s alienation.
Here are the tabs and a tutorial video for the song.
13. Moon River (Genre: Showtune)
If you’re a fan of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, then it’s likely that you’re very familiar with Henry Mancini’s classic “Moon River.” In the movie, Audrey Hepburn plays the guitar as she sings the song. You’ll accompany yourself on kalimba once you learn the tabs. We bet it’ll be just as lovely.
14. A Whole New World (Genre: Showtune)
If you’re a fan of the animated movie Aladdin, then chances are you know this tune well. It’s also another song that’s an easy foray into the kalimba world because it only includes a handful (or so) of notes.
15. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Genre: Showtune/ Folk)
There was a time when binge-watching TV shows wasn’t a thing, which meant fans of The Wizard of Oz had to wait patiently to watch this beloved kids’ favorite when it finally came on TV. It did every year without fail and so, too, did the song for which it’s primarily known: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Judy Garland made it and the land of Oz an escape for kids of all ages.
Play along with the video tutorial: Tabs included.
16. Edelweiss (Genre: Showtune)
If you ever stayed up late on a Friday night to watch Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music, then you know this ballad well. It’s a sentimental tear-jerker that will bring you back to the sweet melodies of one of the world’s favorite musicals.
Here’s a video with the tabs.
17. Jurassic Park Theme Song (Genre: Movie Soundtrack)
If you were one of the lucky ones to see this film in the theaters, you know what a thrill it was. You can recreate that thrill for yourself by learning to play this John Williams tune on kalimba.
18. Auld Lang Syne (Genre: Traditional)
“Auld Lang Syne” has become synonymous with New Year’s Eve celebrations. Written by Robert Byrns in the late 1700s, it reminds us of friendship, even when we’ve parted ways. This one’s a sentimental favorite of ours (and many other people, too, we would wager).
19. The Itsy Bitsy Spider (Genre: Kid Song)
Most of us grew up singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” as kids in preschool or kindergarten. The song got some real pop chops when Carly Simon recorded it as part of the reprise version of the song “Comin’ Around Again” for the 1986 movie Heartburn. That version of the song was just as poppy and catchy as the one you learned in primary school.
Here’s the video tutorial with tabs.
20. London Bridge Is Falling Down (Genre: Folk Song)
This song counts as a favorite amongst the elementary school set. With its infectious tune and easy keys, it’s become popular amongst the kalimba crowd as well. The repetition of the song helps reinforce the keys, making it one of our favorite easy kalimba songs to learn.
21. Happy Birthday (Genre: Folk Song)
The thing about “Happy Birthday” is that it’s a song that pretty much everyone knows. When you’re learning to play a song on an instrument like the kalimba, it can help a lot of you have a solid sense of the song you’re learning. More importantly, learning this song offers practical applications. You can play it the next time you’re celebrating a birthday!
Play the song along with the video tutorial.
22. Baa Baa Black Sheep (Genre: Kids’ Song)
“Baa Baa Black Sheep” is likely a song that your kids have learned in daycare or kindergarten. If so, learning to play this on the kalimba allows you to play and sing songs with them.
23. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (Genre: Kids’ Song)
If it’s your kid and not you who’s learning how to play the kalimba, then you’ll want to include some songs that appeal to kids. Few songs fit the bill as nicely as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” It’s both catchy and easy to play.
Here’s a video tutorial with tabs.
24. Pop! Goes the Weasel! (Genre: Folk Song)
Pop quiz! Which kalimba song is most often associated with the Jack-in-the-box? If you guessed “Pop! Goes the Weasel,” then you either had too many of these toys as a kid, or you peeked at the title. Jokes aside, this is a fun song to learn on kalimba because it’s both easy and poppy. Pun intended.
25. Baby Shark (Genre: Kids’ Song)
“Baby Shark” is another foray into the kids’ song genre and a favorite among young kalimba players. It was originally a campfire song, making it a fun addition to your repertoire if you and your family love to sing around the campfire on vacation.
Get the tabs plus the tutorial.
26. Kum Ba Yah (Genre: Traditional)
“Kum ba yah” counts as another favorite around the campfire. And because of its short, repetitive nature, it’s also easy to learn on the kalimba, allowing beginning players to quickly add songs to their repertoire.
27. She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain (Genre: Americana)
“She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” brings back a lot of memories for us. We first learned it in our first-grade music class and subsequently, sang it around campfires and on long car trips since then. Because of this history, it has been a favorite to learn on the kalimba.
28. This Land Is Your Land (Genre: Americana)
Here’s another one from first-grade music class. Written by folk singer Woodie Guthrie, it was released in 1940 as a counter-response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” It continues to be a classic favorite even today and one of the most popular easy kalimba songs around.
Play along with the song.
29. God Bless America (Genre: Traditional/ Patriotic)
Written by composer Irving Berlin during the First World War, this song was breathed, or rather, sang, to life by Kate Smith. It has become a favorite for young musicians to learn to play ever since.
30. My Country ‘Tis of Thee (Genre: Traditional/ Patriotic)
Samuel Francis Smith wrote “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” a song which was the unofficial national anthem of the United States for many years, until “The Star-Spangled Banner” was later adopted as the anthem of the US. It’s still a popular patriotic song for many.
31. The Star-Spangled Banner (Genre: Patriotic)
While the song “The Star-Spangled Banner” may be difficult to sing, it’s not as difficult to play on the kalimba, due to the two-finger configuration of the instrument. That said, it’s a good challenge for those who are ready to take their kalimba skills to the next level.
See the tutorial and the tabs.
32. How Deep Is Your Love? (Genre: Rock Ballad)
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Bee Gees represented the epitome of rock bands and sweet melodies. While their heyday might have passed, their tunes still play on, in this case, as a sweet, yet simple kalimba tune.
33. You Are My Sunshine (Genre: Hillbilly/ Country)
“You Are my Sunshine” by Charles Mitchell and Jimmie Davis epitomizes love, happiness, and light. Since it was first published in 1940, the song has been covered by 300+ artists and counts amongst our personal favorites, due to its sunny nature and sweet lyrics. Davis, who eventually became governor of Louisiana, was honored by the Louisiana legislature in 1977. The legislative body made “You Are my Sunshine” an official state song.
Here is a video with the tabs.
34. I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (Genre: Pop)
“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” is just as catchy a tune as “You Are my Sunshine.” This song became such an infectious tune that advertising exec, Bill Backer, along with songwriter, Billy Davis, turned it into a jingle for Coca-Cola in 1971. The lyrics “I’d like to teach the world to sing” became “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” and the rest was history. Generations of people, including yours truly, have been humming this tune ever since.
Here is a video with the tabs to play along with.
35. True Colors (Genre: Pop Ballad)
With just four notes to learn, Phil Collins’s “True Colors” is amongst the easiest to learn to play on kalimba. If you’re feeling a bit intimidated at the thought of getting started, let this song set you on your kalimba-playing adventures.
36. Take Me Home, Country Roads (Genre: Country)
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” counts among John Denver’s most famous songs. It’s also a worldwide favorite, with our favorite rendition being the one that the Italians sang on their balconies during the lockdown: They couldn’t get out to socialize with their neighbors, so they socialized through song, this song.
Here’s your tutorial video and tabs.
37. With or Without You (Genre: Soft Rock/ Ballad)
This is one of U2’s most famous songs and a fun song to try on the kalimba. You’ll capture the youthful vigor of this famous band, right in your own home studio.
Play along with the tutorial video.
38. Sweet Child of Mine (Genre: Rock Ballad)
This song by Guns ‘n’ Roses presents a bit more of a challenge for the beginning kalimba player. If you’re ready to graduate up from “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” then we invite you to take on this challenge.
39. Bohemian Rhapsody (Genre: Glam Rock)
If there was ever a song that makes people turn the radio up really loud and sing, it’s Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Surprisingly, it’s also a simple enough song to play on the kalimba if you find the right tab arrangement, which we have. So go ahead. Delve into the real-life with this classic.
40. Heal the World (Genre: R&B/ Pop)
We have the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on this list. It’s only appropriate that we also have the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Recorded in the early 1990s, it’s a song that encourages people to end war and embrace peace and healing. It’s a poignant song and a lovely addition to your kalimba repertoire.
Here’s the tutorial video with tabs.
41. Rolling In The Deep (Genre: Pop/ R&B)
Like Celine Dion, Adele has become another well-known powerhouse female singer. With “Rollin’ in the Deep,” we really get to experience the strength of Adele’s pipes in all their glory. This 2011 hit propelled the British singer into international stardom. If you’re ready to push yourself to try a song that’s a bit more challenging to play on the kalimba, this one is sure to push you to new heights.
Here are the tabs, along with a tutorial video, for the song.
42. Careless Whisper (Genre: Pop/ R&B)
George Michael had already found pop stardom as one half of the duo Wham!, but “Careless Whisper” catapulted the singer-songwriter into superstardom. It’s an easy song to learn to play, so it’s a good segue into the kalimba for the beginner.
You’ll find a video tutorial with tabs here.
43. Perfect (Genre: Rock Ballad)
If you’re like us, you turn the radio up loud when Ed Sheeran’s song “Perfect” comes on. It’s perfect as a sing-along song. It’s also perfect to learn on the kalimba if you want to play and sing along on your own. See what we did there? Perfect, huh?
Play along with the song.
44. Wake Me Up When September Ends (Genre: Alternative Rock)
Though originally written about the loss of his father, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong’s song about loss is popularly tied to the September 11, 2001 attacks. It hit the Billboard Top 100 and eventually went platinum.
Watch a tutorial video of this song. Includes tabs.
45. Imagine (Genre: Folk/ Pop Ballad)
“Imagine” counts as one of John Lennon’s most popular post-Beatles songs. It asks us to imagine a world of peace and harmony. If any song is a worthy one for this list, it’s “Imagine.”
Here’s the song plus the tabs.
46. Hallelujah (Genre: Ballad/ Folk)
Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has been covered by so many singers over the years, but our personal favorite is the K.D. Lang version, which she performed for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Sublime and haunting, this song lends itself well to an elegant instrument like the kalimba.
47. Love Story (Genre: Pop/ Country)
So far, you’ve been treated to the King of Pop and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. While Taylor Swift may not be the queen of either, her popularity and growing stacks of Grammys mean that she’s at least a force to be reckoned with. In light of that, we’ve decided to include her song “Love Story” on our list of easy kalimba songs.
Learn the song’s tabs.
48. Take on Me (Genre: Pop)
A ha’s! “Take On Me” turned out to be one of the biggest songs of the ‘80s. Its clever video and catchy lyrics made a sure one for the MTV crowd.
49. Bring Me to Life (Genre: Rock Anthem)
Evanescence’s song “Bring Me To Life” might have a big sound, but at the heart of it, it’s a simple melody. If you’re ready to learn some big rock, but on a more manageable scale, then this might be the kalimba tune to start with.
50. The Scientist (Genre: Pop/ Alternative)
The snappy melodies from Coldplay’s “The Scientist” makes for a fun afternoon of kalimba playing. We promise this song will get suck in your head as you learn to tab it.
Learn to play the song.
51. You’re Still the One (Genre: Country)
Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” is a country ballad extraordinaire, extolling the virtues of long-term love and commitment. It’s a favorite at weddings and among newly-minted kalimba players.
Play along with the tutorial video here.
52. Ode to Joy (Genre: Traditional Hymn/ Poem)
“Ode to Joy” began as a poem by Friedrich Schiller and eventually, came to life musically when Ludwig Van Beethoven added it to his “Ninth Symphony.” Since then, this joyous song has seen many incarnations, including for the kalimba.
Here’s the tutorial video and tabs.
53. Silent Night (Genre: Hymn/ Christmas Carol)
Originally written in the German language (Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht) by Joseph Mohr, a priest in Austria, this song celebrates the peace of the silent night and the promise of a newborn baby. Mohr, along with Franz Xaver Guber, first performed the song on Christmas Eve, 1818.
Here’s a tutorial video with tabs.
54. We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Genre: Christmas Carol)
This is another one of those poppy Christmas tunes that you can’t help singing to yourself once the Christmas season dawns. Or at least, we can’t. It also happens to be one of our favorite easy kalimba songs to play on the kalima, making it totally possible for you to ring in the Christmas season with this tune!
Play along with the video tutorial. Tabs included.
55. Amazing Grace (Genre: Hymn)
The song “Amazing Grace” has given hope to millions of people since it was first published in the late 1700s by John Newton. Since that time, the song has been recorded by numerous artists and arranged for numerous instruments, including guitar and symphonic metal and now, it’s one of our favorite easy kalimba songs to play.
It has also been recorded by numerous singers, including Elvis Presley. He started our list, and now, it seems fitting that a song he recorded finishes our list.