making space

Morning reading: Alcantara, Indirect Procedures, Chapter 17 – Integrative Practice Strategies. This chapter reinforced many strategies that I already use in practice (maintaining tempo of small phrases, but slowing down the pace, or while putting extra space between small phrases; also, making gestures of required of specific music without worrying about hitting the ‘right’ notes), but made me think of them in terms of AT work (using the slower pace, or the extra space to remind oneself of personal use, tension, posture, etc.)…. I am hoping to integrate some of these ideas into practice today.


Sightreading/Warmup – sightread a 4-mallet solo that I am reviewing for the PAS journal, Percussive Notes. It is mostly linear, so I read it first with two mallets, then with four.

Improv/technique – played with SI strokes, overlapping right and left-hand entrances with dramatic crescendos and decrescendos, sounding a bit like Christopher Deane’s Vespertine Formations; technically moved into DVs with a similar musical approach, then fell into playing the opening chorale of Eric Ewazen’s Marimba Concerto.

Mirror of the Navigation in the Western Sea – (this is one of the mvts of Gatonska’s marimba piece) I don’t often specifically practice this piece – a graphic score – but, every improv that I do is preparation for it. Today, I decided to go right into the score, setting it within 5-8-minutes, nothing fixed on the marimba, just 4-mallets. The result = a way more melodic and chordal improvisation than I am usually inclined to do when presented with absolute freedom, and I ended up using some of the cymbals that are set around my marimba for Rip Tide. This may be a result of so much recent improvisation focused on imitating or playing in different styles, rather than completely free improvisation.

Surface Drifts mm. 1-39 (with most focus on mm. 25-39) – Worked this section beat-by-beat, playing one beat into the downbeat of the next, between 70-80bpm (likely approximate performance tempo), focus on shifting with good use, and using space between each repetition and each beat change to remind self of AT. There are a lot of challenging shifts in this section, particularly mm. 25-39, so this type of practice, at performance tempo, is very useful to help me move toward ultimate performance tempo… assuming I do it comfortably. For the most part, I was able to do this, though I did have to stop after about 20 minutes to do some AT work on the floor. After I returned, use was better and I continued for another 20 minutes.

Surface Drifts mm. 1-39 (again, later, on campus) – continued working on these measures in a similar way…working backwards from the end of the section to the beginning. The practice method I started earlier has highlighted a few 32nd note passages that I need to change to DL strokes rather than two SI strokes.

Surface Drifts 5s, and thru to end – played thru 2x, then played thru to the end

In addition to more work with mm. 1-39 in a similar manner as today, try Surface Drifts 5s (again) same technique as above, at 65bpm.

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