"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." – Sound of Music

Unfortunately, many of today's beginning marimbists do not start here. This series will organize a huge amount of information about marimba pedagogy into a structured learning sequence. Dr. Gaines has spent four years researching hundreds of four-mallet marimba pieces to uncover what techniques and musical attributes were common at all levels. Her Performance Level System separates those broad labels into ten different categories of literature.

This video lesson series follows this highly researched sequence of four mallet technique. In each lesson, Dr. Gaines will discuss the fundamentals behind each new concept, demonstrate the techniques and provide an exercise that will apply the skill.

To get the most out of these lessons, we highly recommend that you purchase a copy of Julia's book, "Sequential Studies for Four-Mallet Marimba: Level 1". Ask for it at your favorite retail music store or order online from

“Sequential Studies for Four-Mallet Marimba”
By Julia Gaines / Edited by Brian Tate

If you can read music, this text is the next step needed for learning four-mallet marimba. It includes twenty, sequential lessons with four or five exercises in each lesson that focus on different aspects of four-mallet technique. No matter what grip you play with, this text will work on your stroke, interval expansion, and stamina. Highlighted throughout the book are eight brand new beginning solos, three commissioned specifically for this book. All you need to do is pick your mallets and your grip and you'll be playing your first four-mallet solo in no time!


Introduction 1: 4 Mallet Grip Overview Introduction 2: The Piston Stroke

Lesson 1A: Double Verticals - Wide Intervals Lesson 1B: Double Verticals - Narrow Intervals

Lesson 2A: Single Independents - Static Intervals Lesson 2B: Double Verticals - Stepwise Motion

Lesson 3A: Double Verticals - Jumping Motion Lesson 3B: Single Independents- Stepwise Motion

Lesson 4A: Double Verticals - Hand Independence Lesson 4B: Single Independents- Parallel Motion

Solo 1: "Marimba Minuet" by Julia Gaines


Lesson 5A: Double Verticals - Stepwise Mirrored Motion Lesson 5B: Mixed Stroke Types, Stepwise Motion

Lesson 6A: Double Verticals - White Note Chords Lesson 6B: Stepwise Interval Expansion

Lesson 6C: X Stroke - Single Independents Lesson 7A: Stepwise Scale Patterns

Lesson 7B: Chord Progression - Double Verticals Lesson 7C: Jumping Motion - Double Verticals

Solo 2: "Etude for Marimba" by Julia Gaines


Lesson 8A: Roll Preparation - Double Verticals Lesson 8B: Scale Fragments, Inner Mallets

Lesson 9A - Chord Progression, Alternating Hands Lesson 9B - Jumping Motion, Alternating Hands

Lesson 10A - Jumping Motion, Interval Expansion Lesson 10B - Full Scale Patterns, Single Independent

Solo 3: "The Clock is Ticking" by Brian Tate


Lesson 11A - DV, Stepping into the Upper Manual Lesson 11B - SI, Stepping into the Upper Manual

Lesson 12A - DV, Splitting Manuals, Narrow Intervals Lesson 12B - SI, Splitting Manuals, Stepwise Motion

Solo 4: "Andante For Marimba"
Lesson 13A - DV, Both Manuals, Changing Intervals Lesson 13B - SI, Both Manuals, Stepwise Motion

Lesson 14A - DV, Both Manuals, Jumping Motion Lesson 14B - SI, Both Manuals, Stepwise Motion

Solo 5: "Lifting Spirits"
Lesson 15A - DV, Chord Progression I in Other Keys Lesson 15B - SI, Mixed Stroke Types, Jumping Motion

Lesson 16A - DV, Mirrored Motion, Split Manual Lesson 16B - SI, Chromatic Scale Fragments

Solo 6: "The Happy Farmer"/ R. Schumann, arr. Brian S. Tate
Lesson 17A - SI, Overlapping Motion Lesson 17B - DV, Chord Progression, Alternating Hands

Lesson 18A - SI Hand Independence, Chromatic Motion Lesson 18B - DV, Major Chords, Chromatic - DV, Chord Progression, Alternating Hands

Vic Firth Mallets Used in This Series:

Virtuoso Series Keyboard
Medium. The most versatile mallet of the series. An all-purpose marimba mallet.
L = 17"
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Dr. Julia Gaines joined the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Missouri in 1996 and is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Percussion Studies. She received her D.M.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma, her master’s degree as well as a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and her bachelor’s degree from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. She has been a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) for twenty years and recently served one term as the Secretary of the Executive committee. In August 2010, she became an Associate Editor for Percussive Notes, the official publication of PAS, with the primary responsibility of Review Editor. She has performed as a soloist or chamber musician in Europe, Russia, Japan, South America, and all over the United States. She gave her Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2008 with a piece she commissioned for marimba and electronic sounds.

Her interest in commissioning new, intermediate four-mallet marimba music as well as her passion for helping teachers lead her to another stage in her career. In 2007, she began the process of creating a matrix from which to objectively analyze the technical and musical attributes of a four-mallet marimba piece. After three years of revising this matrix, she now has a large number of pieces organized into ten pedagogically sequential levels for the beginning marimbist through the professional player. Sequential Studies for Four-Mallet Marimba – Level 1 is Dr. Gaines first book to be published as a result of this research. It is her hope that this is the first of a ten-volume method series.

Dr. Gaines proudly endorses Vic Firth Mallets and Sticks, Pearl/Adams Drums and Percussion, Evans Drumheads, and Sabian Cymbals.