Welcome back to the Chops blog series on mallet FAQs (frequently asked questions). Late last year we addressed the mallet needs of the beginning and intermediate band and orchestra student. Today we’re going to discuss the needs of the advanced student.
As an intermediate student reaches their senior year of high school, they should own mallets for marimba, vibraphone, timpani, and various accessory instruments. As they continue to progress, and eventually approach an advanced level, it is critical they have a wide variety of mallets available for those instruments.
As we’ve discussed many times before, mallet preference is dependent on the individual percussionist. As an intermediate student gains experience they will develop their own preference for brands and models. The following recommendations, therefore, are general.
For the glockenspiel (bells) and xylophone, the advanced student should at least have a hard and soft mallet choice. Plastic is the most common material for these mallets but other choices such as hard rubber or wood or hard rubber exist. For the glockenspiel, a metal mallet, either brass or aluminum is occasionally needed for the most bright and piercing situations.
For the marimba, vibraphone, and timpani the advanced student should own a set of mallets in varying hardness, from very soft to very hard. The brand and models do not need to be consistent across the set, but should represent a wide variety of choices. Advanced students literature will commonly hold different mallet styles while performing modern four mallet marimba literature.
Finally, for accessory instruments, the advanced student should consider owning mallets for bass drum and gong. A medium, general purpose mallet for each instrument will generally suffice. For concert bass drum, a pair of smaller, “rolling” mallets is useful. Other implements, such as brushes, rods or rutes, and a set of triangle beaters are also needed.
With a large variety of mallets available, the advanced student can perform well in any situation. If you, or your student are considering studying music, or performing after high school, it’s time to expand your mallet collection. Contact us for guidance, or to purchase mallets.
Until next time, go practice!