Our friend over at CNBC, John Carney, just bought his little daughter a xylophone. Hoping the Internet could help him teach her how to play, John googled, “How to play the xylophone.”And here’s some good news for entrepreneur Jason Calacanis: The first search result Carney clicked on was a how-to guide from Calacanis’s company, Mahalo, which recently pivoted into the how-to space.
And here’s some bad news for Jason Calacanis: the instructions John found on that Mahalo page were laughable.
Don’t be drinking Diet Coke through a straw right now.
Here is Mahalo’s “How to Play Xylophone for Beginners“:
Step 1: Be Sure You Want to Play the Xylophone
- Choosing the right instrument is essential to your success in learning to play. To see if the xylophone is right for you, visit a music store and try out one of their xylophones. You can also try playing a piano to see if you enjoy it. If you like playing the piano, you will more than likely enjoy playing the xylophone.
Step 2: Find a Xylophone
- After deciding that you want to learn to play the xylophone, you should find one to practice on.
- Decide whether you want to buy a used or new xylophone.
- Choose a wooden or metal xylophone. A wooden xylophone is better quality but more expensive. Metal xylophones are less expensive and often smaller, making them more easily transportable.
- A wooden xylophone is better quality but more expensive.
- Metal xylophones are less expensive and often smaller, making them more easily transportable.
- Make sure that you also get mallets, as those are what you strike the keys with.
Step 3: Work on the Fundamentals
- Xylophones are one of the few instruments that you can learn to play, or at least learn to begin playing on your own.
- You can purchase learning software online or check books out of the library that will walk you through the first steps to playing the xylophone.
- Learn to read music. Just as in piano, you must know the different staffs, the different notes on those staffs, what the time signature of the piece is and what each musical notation means.
- Begin to strike keys to see what sounds they produce. Longer bars play lower notes and shorter bars the higher ones.
- Experiment with a different mallets. Harder beaters produce brighter and sharper sounds. Soft beaters produce gentle tones.
- Harder beaters produce brighter and sharper sounds.
- Soft beaters produce gentle tones.
Step 4: Get Professional Instruction
- If you do not feel like you are making enough progress via self-teaching or if you prefer to learn from a professional, you can seek out a xylophone teacher. Some ways to find a good instructor are:
- Recommendations from family or friends who play
- Local newspaper classifieds
- Suggestions from your neighbourhood music store
- Online searches
Step 5: Practice Regularly
- Regular practice is a necessity for improving any instrumental talent. The xylophone is no exception. Practice every day to hone your skills.
- Playing the xylophone is fun and energizing and learning the instrument is relatively easy as long as you have the proper preparation.
Now, to be fair, Mahalo just pivoted into the how-to space. We’re sure Calacanis will see entries like this and then launch a quality control initiative, ASAP.
Anyway, to really get an idea of how useless the Mahalo instructions are, you need to see screenshots.
Because not only is this how to guide almost completely useless (we don’t say completely because “practice regularly” is good advice) it is also nearly impossible to read because it is COVERED in ads.
Not counting two banner ads on the sides, we tallied 15. For some extra-fun, count how many of them are relevant to the content – at all. (Step 3: “familiarise yourself with the music and learn to read it if you do not have a musical background.”)