When I began my career as percussion teacher, I found there was a lack of easy material that was both fun to play and preparatory for beginners.
That’s why I decided to write etudes in different styles (classical, blues, jazz, Latin, R&B), that were both enjoyable to play and easy enough for understanding the basic principles of movement involved on mallet instruments. The two Easy Mallets books (Marimba & Xylophone; Vibraphone & Improvisation) that collect these etudes were written to be used simultaneously as they complement each other.
I teach my students (even the classical one) to learn how to improvise right from the beginning of their studies, in order to remove the fear of playing without reading music.
In the book dedicated to the Vibraphone & Improvisation the students will learn how to improvise using basic harmonic structures in different styles (swing, Latin, blues, shuffle, R&B, boogaloo…).
Improvisation is not only a great way to develop creativity, sense of rhythm, musicality and ears, but it is also an amazing practice routine that will unconsciously make the students understand the mechanic of their hands, while getting familiar with the instrument.
When we learn to improvise, we learn instrument fluency; we learn the natural connection between a musical idea, its manifestation in sounds we can control and we learn to link sound devices to our own musical voice.
I will explain some of the basic concepts of improvisation, dispelling many myths behind this musical art and giving creative advice that will encourage the students to let go of the need to be perfect and let themselves be playful.
They will become aware of the fundamental harmonic and melodic concepts at the base of music (an area where percussionists often find themselves unprepared).
EASY MALLETS: VIBRAPHONE & IMPROVISATION
EASY MALLETS: MARIMBA & XYLOPHONE
How to Use Backing Tracks
The backing tracks can be found here on my website www.giovanniperin.com and on my YouTube channel under the playlist called Easy Mallets.
Online you will find three versions of the play along: the first version has the melody recorded on top of the backing track. The second one is a slower recording of it, so that the student can gradually develop speed and control on the instrument. The third one is just the backing track with the original tempo.
I suggest first to listen to it, then get through the material slowly with the metronome and, only when everything is clear, start to work with the slower version of the backing track.
It’s really important that students record themselves while practicing, both with and without the play-along, in order to keep track of their progress.
The tracks of the book called Easy Mallets – Vibraphone & Improvisation that involve improvised parts, are recorded twice (6 tracks in total): one version contains the solo section, the other one is without it. There are also two extra tracks (one has the original tempo and one is slower) for practicing only the solo section following the suggestions I give about improvisation techniques and how to practice them.
You can choose whether or not to play the solo, but I encourage you to give it a try, I’m sure you’ll have fun!
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