Repair It: Vibraphone Educating Suggestions

Inside the mallet instrument household (marimba, orchestra bells, xylophone, vibraphone), the vibraphone or “vibes” is the most recent member and essentially the most distinctive.

There may be an added degree of coordination wanted to play the vibes due to its dampening pedal. College students should mix fundamental mallet-playing approach with pedaling approach.

I recall as a younger percussionist spending numerous time specializing in the totally different coordination mixtures and as soon as it “clicked,” I by no means had a problem once more. It’s like taking the coaching wheels off of your first bike — as soon as they’re eliminated, you by no means must put them again on!

band director overseeing percussion students playing the vibraphone and marimbaRepair It:
Mallet Placement and Equal Proper-to-Left-Hand Involvement

This is a matter with any mallet percussion instrument, however the challenge could be exaggerated with the vibraphone: A pupil’s dominant hand will typically be louder. Guarantee that the scholar’s top of rise with their fundamental stroke is equal. You don’t want to listen to that widespread slight accent from their dominant hand.

The big metallic bars of the vibes are so resonant that the slightest distinction with mallet putting placement could be heard. The best location for all the bars is useless middle. Younger college students generally have a problem taking part in the higher guide (accidentals) within the middle of the bars. Whenever you strike too near the node or “the string,” the sound actually suffers. College students should turn into constant and all the time strike the identical spot on every bar. Over time, “muscle reminiscence” will assist with this course of.

Repair It:
Producing a “Wind-Like” Legato Phrase that Isn’t Uneven or Staccato

By a mixture of some uniquely vibe methods, you’ll be able to produce “wind-like” legato musical phrases.  

Pedaling shouldn’t be an “on” or “off” choice. The dampening pedal on the vibes is much like the pedal on a piano. Many younger college students get into the behavior of getting the pedal both all the best way up or all the best way down. This doesn’t must be the case. There are distinctive pedaling ideas, resembling “half pedal” or “flutter pedal” that may be explored. Let your college students experiment with the pedal. The dampening pedal solely must be lowered just a little as a way to permit the vibe bar to ring out. A slight quantity of down strain will permit the bar to ring.

College students must also experiment with the timing of when to maneuver the pedal up and down. Think about that you’re taking part in a half notice on an F adopted by a G. Because the F bar is ringing, don’t carry the foot up till a break up second earlier than you strike the G bar. The shorter this break up second could be, the higher. The objective is to have the vibraphone sound like a wind instrument, nearly slurring from one pitch to a different. This similar idea can come into play connecting vibe chords.

Mallet dampening is one other efficient approach to assist join legato notes. The pedal stays DOWN as you progress from notice to notice. The mallet head is used to press in opposition to the metallic bar to cease its vibrating. The coordination wanted to do that is hard, and getting used to it’s going to take a while. There are a few alternative ways to method mallet dampening. First, there’s a sure notation used to point out when mallet dampening is required. This notation is solely an X . Here’s a very fundamental train to introduce this concept to younger college students. The pedal stays DOWN your complete time.

vibraphone dampening example 1

The only solution to mallet dampen is to make one hand the “participant” and the opposite hand the “dampener.” The trick is the timing and the totally different kind of stroke required for every hand. The dampening movement is solely urgent the mallet head into the bar. You don’t want to listen to the dampening mallet make contact! There have to be simply sufficient strain to cease the sound from the bar. The taking part in mallet makes use of a traditional stroke. The timing is vital as a result of each arms should do their strokes on the similar time. With this simultaneous timing, you shouldn’t hear any contact sound from the dampening hand.

One other method to mallet dampening is to alter the roles of every hand relying on the musical line itself. For the train under, each arms can dampen at totally different occasions relying on the convenience of taking part in the musical line.

vibraphone dampening example 2

There are a number of different variations that can be utilized for mallet dampening, however the two examples above are a terrific place to begin.

Additionally, you’ll be able to press a finger into the vibe bar to cease the vibration fairly than the mallet head. This finger dampening is used loads whereas taking part in the bells.



Repair It: When to Pedal If it Isn’t Notated

Most massive ensemble literature is not going to have pedal markings notated for the vibraphone half. That is left as much as the performer. Generally lengthy musical slurs or phrase marks are used to point out the place the composer wished to deliver throughout a legato phrase. Keep in mind to remember what the general objective is in regard to the sound of the musical second. Between using the pedal and mallet dampening, the scholar needs to deliver throughout that total objective. There is no such thing as a absolute rhythm or cause on how to do that.  By the dampening and pedaling concepts listed above, you could assist your college students deliver throughout that musical objective.

The music idea behind the linear notice assortment may assist in your choice. How does it sound with these couple of pitches ringing by way of on the similar time? The short half pedal may also help in faster passages whereas mallet dampening may assist when time permits it. Once more, that is one thing that you simply, the music educator, and your pupil can experiment with. How does the vibraphone musical second work with or in opposition to the wind second and the opposite mallet components?

Remaining Suggestions

Just a few “nuggets” to consider:

  • Use WD-40 on the pedal mechanism to restrict all of the squeaks and clicks that may typically come throughout with the vibraphone.
  • From time to time, test and ensure all knobs, screws, bolts, and many others. are tightened, particularly those who face towards the ground. Vibration and gravity are likely to loosen issues over time.
  • In most ensemble conditions, the vibraphone will get misplaced within the total ensemble sound. The instrument comes throughout as a quiet instrument. The short, simple repair is to make use of more durable mallets than you may assume are wanted. In comparison with most different mallet devices and the totally different drum-type devices, the vibes don’t undertaking as properly.