View Full Version : Mallet Percussion

10-29-2005, 09:43 AM
I wanted to know if anybody can help me with 4-mallet technique... I'd like to take a solo to comp this spring that utilizes it, but my skill level has gone beyond what my Band Director can teach me. I'm a Junior in H.S. He says it'll be pretty easy to get a scholarship with it if I keep improving and improvising like I have been..

Anyway, that was sorta pointless, just put it there so somebody doesn't come in and be like "OMG you N00B got PUT ON THE B3LLZ!!!!!111oneone2"


Anyway, help if you can?

10-29-2005, 11:57 AM
it's really hard to explain without pictures....basically you hold one mallet hte normal way and the other goes in between your middle and ring fingers. It's end should extend some length on to your palm. It's really hard for me to describe how to move them so i'll let someone else do that but the percussion instructor here says if you get blisters you're doing it right (which is weird to me but he's awesome so) .

10-29-2005, 03:32 PM
You're not going to gain enough knowedge here to adequately learn the technique. There are two basic grips: Burton grip which is used by most jazz vibists and some Japanese marimba players (Keiko Abe for one), and the newer Musser/Stevens grip which is a bit more difficult, but provides more flexibility and range. You are going to need a private teacher to help you master either of them. For starters though, pick up Leigh Howard Stevens "Method Of Mallet Movement". It does explain the grip in good detail with pics.

The syllek attacks
10-29-2005, 04:27 PM

Find someone who can play aswell, with me I watched the 1st few then asked our schools top mallet player and she actually helped show me how to use what I saw in the videos.

10-29-2005, 04:27 PM
Also, another solution, is to come up with a grip that feels right to you.
Every university professor that I have talked to has claimed that music isn't about the technique, it's about the sound.
If your hands aren't the same as Steven's then you are going to have to mutate the grip a little anyway. It's a good starting point, but many famous mallet players use their own grip.
If it's a fast easy technique you are looking for, then go ahead and practice someone elses...but think about ways to create your own.

10-30-2005, 07:53 AM
I've been to vicfirth.com before, that helped a lot.

I am the top mallet player in my school. Granted, it's not a big school, I spend most of my time either memorizing my music, or teaching someone else, wether it be freshman who wanna know minor / melodic minor scales and rules in theory, or teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th graders how to read and play mallet perc.

Even so, my band director has told me to my face that I'm beyond what he thinks he can teach me. I pretty much know how to do 4-mallet, I just don't know how to widen them. I'm stuck doing thirds... which isn't a good thing.

10-30-2005, 09:11 AM
^^^umm....if you can only make thirds, then I think you need a lot of practice. Octaves were a sinch for me to accomplish within the first 5 minutes. I can widen to approximately 1.2 octaves...
You need to refine your grip and read some difficult music. Even the most easy of 4-mallet pieces have intervals of more than a third.
Ex. "Gitano" by Alice Gomez has 8th note octaves for a whole big section of the music.

I hate the fact that tiny school don't feel like it is necessary to hire a percussion instructor... it's a whole different ballgame from wind instruments, yet band directors think that they can handle it.

10-30-2005, 09:20 AM

I have asked him if I could have my solo already for the spring, but he said I would get bored of it if I worked on it too much. I will ask him if I can look at some solos not to take to comp, but rather what you just said.

However, I do take pride in my thirds... being able to play every major / minor scale in two octaves at the same time.... :-) but I am relatively unexperienced in Mallet Percussion, as you can see... But it's only because I live in a very small town.

I think it's worth mentioning that I don't suck at mallets... I just don't have a lot of experience. I've only been in band since last concert season, and I need some private lessons. Which are hard to get in a small town like this.

I hate it here.

10-30-2005, 09:27 AM
^^all I can say is to keep practicing. If you want something badly enough, you can achieve it. I'm not much of a mallet person either...i'm a drumset guy, but because of my drive to succeed, I have set the bar high, and even though I haven't reach it, I have surpassed a lot of people in the process.
I'm a freshmen at the University of Tennessee and my professor has already told me that he expects me to be top of the drumset studio within a year.
This isn't an ego trip....just an inspirational idea. I haven't studied music since I was 3 like most virtuosos, but my dedication is getting me far beyond what I ever though possible.

Just keep up playing and you will suprise yourself in the future.
And stick the these forums. We can tell you what you should be practicing based on where you are in schooling.