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drummindan8484 12-17-2010 06:27 AM

Mallet percussion technique questions
Anybody on here play the vibes, marimba, etc.? I'm learning them because my 1st choice of music school that I'm auditioning for next spring (to attend fall of 2012) requires me to learn them, as do most music schools even if you're doing a jazz major (like me).

My main question concerns 4 mallet playing. I personally think the Stevens grip feels much more comfortable and easier to change intervals than the Burton grip, but every time I try to play chords, my wrist torques to the side which makes it look almost like Burton. Any tips on how to overcome this?

Also, I've heard some players say that Stevens sounds bad on the vibes, but I wouldn't mind any additional opinions on this subject. And also, is Stevens really any worse for your wrist than Burton like I've heard also.

caddywumpus 12-17-2010 06:42 AM

Re: Mallet percussion technique questions
I play Stevens on the vibes, and I have no problems whatsoever. It's kind of a divided camp: Stevens players prefer birch handles, and Burton players prefer rattan handles. It kind of goes with the "feel" of each on the instrument.

EDIT: One other thing to consider: on the vibes, you basically HAVE to play in the middle of the bars (unlike the marimba and xylo, where you can play the edge of the accidentals and "get away with it"). Burton grip is more comfortable for this, I've heard.

About your wrist torquing: play more inverted chords. Of course your wrists are going to get funky while playing a B major triad (B, D#, F#, B). Play something more interesting, and better contouring for your wrists, like: F#, B, D#, F#. It'll be easier to play, and sound less "freshman in theory class"-ish.

Good luck, and hold on tight! Music school is a huge smack upside your head, in an academic way...

drummindan8484 12-17-2010 09:49 PM

Re: Mallet percussion technique questions
Very good point about the inversions. My teacher (for both set and mallets) noticed at my last lesson when we started working on "Satin Doll" that I was playing my chords in root position, so I'll have to try with some more inversions. I'll be starting applied lessons next semester at my community college where I'm at now, so I'll have 2 teachers to work on that with.

drummindan8484 12-19-2010 05:47 AM

Re: Mallet percussion technique questions
One other question, do cheesy little bell kits serve as valid practice tools for 4 mallet technique? Part of me thinks the problem is the size of the keys is so small. I have no problem just playing scales and single note melodies with 4 mallets but could the small size of the keys and the closeness of them to each other be causing problems? I shouldn't be complaining since my teacher is letting me borrow it for free until I leave or until another student needs it, but I still would like your opinions.

Here is more or less what I have:


My teacher is now using a MalletKAT pro as his main teaching tool. He noticed the torqueing on that as well, but it didn't seem anywhere near as bad as on the bells.

caddywumpus 12-19-2010 06:55 PM

Re: Mallet percussion technique questions

Originally Posted by drummindan8484 (Post 777842)
One other question, do cheesy little bell kits serve as valid practice tools for 4 mallet technique?

Well...they'll give you "the idea" when it comes to what notes to play, just like when you use that bell kit to practice your scales, but transferring the feel of 4 mallet playing from that to a larger keyboard instrument will be tough.

Let me put it this way: it's better than nothing, but not by much.

If you can keep your eye on the local used market/craigslist/music shops/pawn shops/antique shops, then try to find a mallet instrument (vibes, marimba, or xylo). Even if it's just a pit model, marching model, or missing the stand part of the frame, it will serve you much better in practicing than a glockenspiel.

Drums101 01-06-2011 12:38 AM

Re: Mallet percussion technique questions
If you use a bell set your not going to be able to play the majority of songs that require 4 mallets.

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