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Marimba Warm Ups: Set up for success!

My groups meet on a weekly basis and they are at different levels of playing. There are some that have played in marimba groups before and are really comfortable with their mallet playing while others are still getting used to it. When starting my group classes each week, I like to present a few warm ups to get everyone on the right track.

Marimba Warm Ups: LEVEL 1

PLAY WHAT I SAY: I like to do a warm up with my beginners that I learned from Artie Almeida. It’s a simple “play what I say” kind of warm up. I say individual letters of the scale in a different rhythmic pattern and the kids play that note how I spoke it. For example, I say “C C C-C C” in a ta ta ti-ti ta and they play it back, even saying it if needed. We play the entire scale from C to C’ on different rhythmic patterns. In the beginning I do remind students to play with two mallets though I don't stress it too much. My main focus is for them to recognize the notes and rhythmic patterns. Depending on the level of the players, I vary the patterns from simple quarter note-eighth note patterns to sixteenth patterns. This helps students get to know the scale and work their mallets from left to right. To help work from right to left or “backwards”, we go down the scale on a selected pattern 4 beats.

STEADY RHYTHMS: The next warm up is like the first one but I choose a rhythm pattern that challenges skills and ear training--likely something with steady 16ths. Only this time, I do the same rhythm up the scale to give the students a chance to test their playing skills. And again, to reinforce going back down the scale, we play a shortened pattern of 2 beats.

STEADY SCALE: For the final beginner warm up, it very simple--just play the scale one note at at time on a steady beat, but this time they have to use both mallets. I give my students about 1 minute to figure out how to play the scale steadily. I even give them the tempo (really slow). I tell them they HAVE to play together at the same speed with 95-100% accuracy for my to take the tempo faster. When I think they are ready for it, I have THEM figure out the tempo without my help. I like this part of the warm up because not only are the students taking initiative and holding each other and themselves accountable, but they ALSO build themselves up as a team and begin the camaraderie that is necessary for a marimba group to be successful!

Do you have a more intermediate level group? I'll be posting about my LEVEL 2 WARM UPS for students who have some skills already.

I'm gonna include a video of these warmups so you can simply "press play" and have your group warm up with me! Stay tuned!

~Sabrina Silva

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