baby steps with cymbals in!!

I had a great morning ear warmup listening to the sounds around my back yard… I heard at least 8 different birds calling, crickets, the chipmunk stealing the bird food, the overflowing stream coming down the mountain by my house, distant highway sounds, local traffic,  neighbor dogs, intermittent wind chimes blowing around the yard, and the wind lightly whipping through all the different trees in my yard. It was beautiful and relaxing, and just the right thing to put me in the mood for practicing… or sitting on the back porch all day. 😉


Rip Tide (in two 45-minute sessions)

Warmup – chromatic exercises; M9, m9, M7, m7 double stops up and down the keyboard

I created an exercise specific to this piece to work on progressively building tempo (and, I should do this at the beginning of every practice session on this piece from now on). Today, I worked it at 170bpm. The tempo of the piece is to be 200bpm… though I am not sure that I will get it beyond 170-180bpm. However, if this exercise can be played at 200bpm+, it will help the overall tempo of the piece.

Here is a recording of the exercise I created (the chosen notes are only those within the range of the piece).

Playing with cymbals – improvised double stop 8th note patterns in range of piece, adding cymbal strikes at random

Mm. 153-end – read through without metronome, with cymbals; worked without cymbals at 120bpm. At 120bpm, I played through 5 or 6 times at this tempo with 90%+ accuracy. So I think I can say, with confidence, that the entire piece (mallets only) is at 120bpm! And now, the bulk of my work for the next month should be focused on getting the piece at 120bpm with cymbals and bass drum included.

Mm. 153-end (cont.) – worked with cymbals at approx. 90-100bpm (no metronome). After working this for a while, I tried recording… unfortunately, each time I mentally tensed up and was not able to get a good recording (too focused on mistakes). I’ll try again next time.

Mm. 119-152 – read through with cymbals approx 90-100bpm; worked with metronome (mallets only) at 125bpm

I am feeling a lot of progress today… I think adding the cymbals (which is making me not look so intently at the marimba notation) is actually forcing me to work more from muscle memory than from my reading. When I went to mm. 119-152 mallets only, it was quite easy to push the tempo up another 5bpm, and I realized that even then my eyes were working differently, as I was trying to peripherally see the marimba part AND the cymbal/bass drum parts. FYI – the cymbals are notated on a staff above the marimba, and the bass drum is notated on a staff below the marimba, so I am really having to widen my sightline.

Soooo…. just for fun, I tried reading the whole piece at 130bpm and it was fairly accurate – maybe 85%, with the most mistakes in mm. 94-118, which is right in the middle of the piece… I have been working from the end and from the beginning so much, that I think I have neglected the middle. So that is where I will start tomorrow.


Rip Tide (later in the day… in two 20-minute session)

Exercise from earlier…

Mm. 94-118 – read through 5-6 times (mallets only) at 120bpm = good; added cymbals, around 100bpm = also good.

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