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Marimba Warm Ups: Intermediate Level

For the second level of warm ups, I focus on two mallets in both hands and using them alternatively and then together. In Level 1, it’s great if students are using their mallets alternatively, but the focus of those is understanding rhythm and beat and playing together. Mallets striking alternately and together is another acquired skill. What also makes things trickier is using your dominant hand versus your non-dominant hand--it's harder than you think!


Warm Up #1: Two Hands Together

For this warm up, I have the students practice a scale using two hands in parallel thirds. Striking C and E at the same time, I have them play a rhythm--two dotted eighths and one eighth note followed by 2 beats of rest. It looks like this:


We play this all up the scale and then coming back down we play each set again, but on a quarter note and rest.


Warm Up #2: Alternating Thirds

Next, I have them do it the same parallel thirds scale, this time starting working with an alternating hands sticking pattern and in ¾ time. In the below pic, L means “left hand” and R means “right hand”:



To come back down the scale, students will play this pattern in reverse; i.e. lead with the right hand:



Now if your barred instruments do not go all the way to a high C, much less a high E, then go as far as your instrument can go. The point of this warm up is to become accustomed to the way the mallets move and maintaining good control of the mallets.


Warm Up #3: Together-Then-Not

Finally, we play the scale in thirds again. This time we use a rhythm pattern that Walt Hampton uses in his pieces a lot. It’s a lot of fun to play once you get used to it. The right hand plays the top note and the left hand plays the bottom note:




And coming back down the scale, the pattern switches a bit:



You could easily spend an entire lesson just working on these warm ups. They are meant to challenge your musically growing groups to enhance their playing, to get them used to playing with two mallets and gain great mallet control.


Stay tuned for my blog post about ADVANCED warm ups to help your group play a great lead part in a song. They are warm ups that I’ve actually worked on myself to make sure my skills stay on point.


~Sabrina Silva

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