Rhythm and melody are part of the human psyche. Babies and toddlers love to bang on any thing within reach with whatever they can get their hands on.
These children, mainly girls but with boys also involved to a lesser degree play with energy and love of music.
Unlike conventional orchestras, bands, and ensembles where percussion is often an appendage or a last thought in much music, and drums used almost in overdose quantities in popular music, the instruments “ the marimba belles” use are up front and are the main source of rhythm, melody and harmony.
My colleague and I are alarmed that children who have mastered a mallets instrument upon attending early secondary school, especially in Australia, find themselves providing colour and contrasts in limited amounts in stage bands, horn laden big swing and if lucky, members of the “kitchen department “ of school orchestras, where strings, beautiful nevertheless, are the main carrier of melody and harmony. There seems to be no change in the wind with a conservative political party recently elected. Music will now truly become the " Cinderella" of the school program. Hopefully, progressive schools will have designed the wherewithal to overcome the stultifying curricular.
Too few times, young people are encouraged to tackle mallets instruments: vibraphones, glockenspiel, marimbas, xylophones which had their foundations in ancient African history as the instruments’ sounds flowed through the rain-forests.
We have, with only a few other ensembles world wide, encouraged children aged from nine onwards to re-interpret jazz, pop, classical, baroque, folk ballads using these very accessible instruments.
The players obsession and addiction to the sounds of orchestral percussion is pervasive, and wonderful to see and hear.
The means of learning is wide and varied and include formal theory, the Suzuki method, and just plain improvisation.
There is a wow factor of course in seeing lightning fast movement of arms, hands and sticks streak across the keyboards.
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Thanks for reading the blurb. Graham and Adrian....Teachers.