Music theory on marimba: bringing the classroom into the practice room

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Justin Matthew Bunting (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kevin Geraldi

Abstract: Since its emergence in the twentieth century, the teaching of four-mallet marimba playing has become standard in the college percussion curriculum. An enormous increase in the volume and difficulty of literature for the instrument in the last two decades has led to an equal increase in the level of musical understanding necessary to perform on the marimba. In the first years of college instruction, the development of four-mallet skills is vital to a student's sound production, technical accuracy, and overall musicianship. Equally as important, academic success in courses such as music theory during these same years is crucial to the development of analytical and interpretive skills. The purpose of this study is to create a book of etudes that brings together four-mallet marimba technique and music theory. The connection between what a student is learning in music theory class and what he or she works on in the practice room is incredibly important to the development of a young musician. A better analytical understanding of a piece can lead to a more informed, complete, and accurate performance. Similarly, technical fluency helps alleviate difficulties and serve musicality in performance. The creation of parallel sequences of topics for both areas resulted in a logical theoretical and technical progression through ten etudes. The first years of collegiate music study may be a student's initial experience with four-mallet marimba, music theory, or both. While proper instruction in both areas is obviously essential to success, the connection between the two areas is even more important. Although referenced often in private instruction, such a combination of music theory and four-mallet technique does not currently exist, despite its value to the student and educator. As a result, there is often a gap between the classroom and the practice room. This document is meant to help close that gap and allow students to recognize the relevance of their coursework to their time in the practice room.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Marimba, Pedagogy, Solos, Technique, Theory
Marimba $x Instruction and study
Marimba $v Methods

Email this document to