Building community through music

Building community through music

Kkarimba at Lake MacDonald amphitheatre

7 Years ago I was lucky enough to be asked whether I wanted to learn how to play a marimba with other members of the community. The marimba is a diatonic xylophone style instrument with wooden keys and piped resonators. I liked playing other percussion instruments, and because it was close by and part of a community initiative (organised by a friend of mine) I jumped at the chance.  

My friend had contacted local Kin Kin based music legend Linsey Pollak to run marimba classes for kids. He however, thought it was a better idea to run classes for adults and then get the kids keen by watching their parent play. We started our first lessons under the Kin Kin primary school and there were around 25 people. For six years a core group of around 20 people played, some came, some went, but we were ever progressing and evolving. We were named Kkarimba and we played a number of local community performances and at the Woodford Folk Festival. Linsey was right, the children got keen and he led a children’s group for a few years, until he merged the kids with Kkarimba.

Below a piece played at the yearly “Big Marimba” event, at Lake MacDonald amphitheatre, a free community event.

Early this year Linsey moved away from the area and I took over the teaching and running of the community band. We are now a 15 piece and still going strong! Every Wednesday night we practice in the Kin Kin hall, we all have a great time and it is lovely catching up with our neighbours, who we see so little of because we all have so much to do. Most people here in Kin Kin live on larger properties and run their own small businesses, and it does get hard to see each other regularly (or to even meet!). Music has brought people together from all walks of life and with a large variety of interest. My family is involved, Tom and my son Marlon both play as well. Kkarimba has couples and parents with children involved. It brings families together as well as the wider community!

The marimba is a very uplifting instrument, so people are always happy listening and playing! It is a wonderful thing to be involved in, and a fantastic tool to bring communities closer. In traditional societies music has always been an essential part of the community. Playing music and dancing succeeds in bringing and keeping communities together, telling stories from the past to knit ancestors to their modern relatives, conveying love stories and even giving instructions on living. Most of all though, music brings joy to the hearts of the people involved in playing, dancing and listening to the music. And when there is joy in people’s hearts there is no room for quarrels.

Have a look below at the 15 minute documentary about the becoming of Kkarimba:

Our Kin Kin community marimba band (Kkarimba) will be playing Saturday 22 September at Festuri in Caloundra, at the Sand Stage from 11am to 11.30am and at the Main stage at 3pm. We are playing there as part of the Playing for Change fundraiser, raising funds for music education around the world.

We are also organising a community afternoon, called the “Kin Kin Big Arvo” on Sunday 14 October from 2 until 5pm, where Stix n Stax (the new Kin Kin kids’ band) and Kkarimba will perform. After the performances, everyone can join in a jam on these amazing instruments!  This event will be a fundraiser for Kkarimba, all funds going to instruments and public liability insurance for the band. Entry is $10 for adults, $5 concession or a special $20 for entry including a Kkarimba CD! Free entry for kids and cakes, coffee and tea will be available for purchase.

We look forward to getting the community together at the Kin Kin hall, for an afternoon filled with happy music, dancing, yummy food and hopefully new connections made and existing ones strengthened…


  1. NIce entry – I had the pleasure of hearing some great marimba playing at the opening of a new concert hall here, glad to read about this sort of thing.

    Thanks for sharing.

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