so…one thing i’m terrible at (and not really ashamed to admit it) is independent rolls on marimba. especially with my left hand.
wait…do orchestral players even play 4-mallet marimba?
YES. i’m not a ’non-marimba-playing percussionist’ if that sort of thing even exists nowadays.
i learned 4-mallet marimba from the beginning of my percussion education, pursued it seriously in college, and played it in auditions for orchestras. orchestral musicians don’t have to be as good at technique as a marimba soloist. we learn marimba solos in order to learn how to phrase music and play with good tone. and how to rebound off the bar. i never spent that much time learning 4-mallet permutations out of a technique book though, for instance.
i played bach’s g major cello prelude for my new world symphony audition though, and i learned druckman’s reflection on the nature of water for my met audition. oh yeah, and we have to play marimba in orchestra sometimes too. like in last year’s saariaho opera.
so why can’t i play a left hand independent roll?
well…i just never ended up playing a piece with that technique in it.
i remember working on independent rolls with my teacher in high school, michael udow. (an AMAZING teacher with tons of students all over the world. there’s probably like an 80% chance that you’re his percussion grand-student or at least somewhere in his percussion-family-tree.)
but you get really good at the techniques in the pieces you perform. and there was never a point where i needed to be good at independent rolls. so i’m not.
but all of you have been asking me for exercises on how to play them! and so, since it’s something i can’t teach, i brought in an expert on the subject.
she’s an international marimba soloist and a fellow michael udow student. and freaking rock star…you should see her new album cover. i asked her to teach me (and you) how to practice independent rolls.
what’s great is that she doesn’t just give exercises. she talks about what the tonal and musical goal of the rolls are, how to find the speeds, and then how to practice them.
it’s pretty awesome. check it out!
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