When I began my carrier 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 understanding 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).