Xylophone for Beginners – Lesson Five

In today’s lesson, we will focus on practising playing with two mallets simultaneously. Professional marimba and xylophone players in an orchestra most often use four mallets at the same time, two in each hand. At times, two mallets is deemed sufficient, depending on the piece being performed. 

With this in mind, it is important to practice using two mallets at the same time. What we are aiming for is to have the two keys played exactly at the same time so that there is only one fuller sound being heard. When more than one key is played at the same time, this is called a chord. Chords are very common in songs and in orchestral music. 

Here is an example of how a chord looks like:

Now let’s practice playing some; use the mallet in your left hand to play the lower note and the mallet in your right hand to play the higher note. Before playing, read through the notation to ensure that you know all notes, because there are some higher notes in the exercises that we have not covered yet. 

The capital letter L indicates left hand and the capital letter R indicates right hand. Try and follow the suggestions for which mallet to use as it will make the music sound smoother. Once you have played through a few times, make sure that you are playing each note for the correct number of beats as well. 

Now let’s practice playing two well-known nursery rhymes that combine one note melody lines with chords. The songs are ‘Cradle Song’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. 

Please note something new: the # sign indicates what we call a sharp key, which is the black key to the right of the usual white key. It is written on the xylophone key. The b-sign indicates what we call a flat key, which is the black key to the left of the usual white key. These are seen in ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

Also please note that the instruction to roll all notes means to let the sound of the keys ring and blend together when you play them.  

Until next time, please practice the exercises and songs found in this lesson. 

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