MarimbaLab Fundraiser For New Chromatic Marimbas!

Many months ago, Lisa Greenleaf (a MarimbaLab parent) decided to donate her incredible 1903 Steinway piano to the MarimbaLab program to help us raise the funds to buy chromatic marimbas for the Riverdale Grade School MarimbaLab program. I am still in awe by this generous gift and want to make the most of it. Our fundraising goal to replace the diatonic marimbas at the school is $60,000 (or $65,000 with trailer to move/store them). If you don't know the difference between diatonic and chromatic marimbas and why they are so important, watch this video I filmed. This piano was recently appraised at $89,800 and was completely rebuilt in 2008 before the Greenleaf's purchased it. If we can find a private buyer to purchase this piano, we will make a great deal more than if we had to pay the Portland Piano Co. to sell it (17-20% commission). (We can ship the piano no problem if purchased at a distance)

EVERY DOLLAR MADE FROM THE SALE OF THIS INSTRUMENT GOES DIRECTLY TO PURCHASE NEW MARIMBAS FOR THE MARIMBALAB PROGRAM!! Maybe someone knows someone that has been wanting to start playing again, or has always wanted to learn and now has the time!! Many of you have asked me how you can help with fundraising for the new instruments. HERE IS YOUR CHANCE!! Lets get the word out and maybe we can raise all the funds we need and get the instruments ordered!! This would be an amazing opportunity to support the MarimbaLab program...Let's do this!!!

"Lean On Me" Virtual MarimbaLab 1.0 Is Finished

60 performers and 31 donors from all over the country came together to join me in paying tribute to the amazing Bill Withers who passed away on March 30th, days after I launched this project. Hundreds of hours went into arranging, emailing, editing, mixing, recording and filming this project. I have to say that it was worth it. I am so grateful and proud of everyone that participated in this project. When Covid19 hit I was inspired by many music groups that had produced incredible virtual music projects. Lean On Me was the first song that came to mind when I made the decision that I wanted to produce a virtual marimba project of my own. The timeless melody and message of the song fit every ounce of what I wanted to share with my friends and family during this difficult time. I wanted to reach out with a message hope to those I felt so apart from. I made many new friends along the way, and hope this is just the first of many Virtual MarimbLab projects to come! Here is a list of the donors and performers that made this possible:

Donors: David Abraham Sharie Andrews Nathan Bowser Brian Calhoon Kira Donohoo Diane Emord Paige Freeborn Kyoko Gandy Diana Green David Houston Bethany Ivy Barbara Johnston William Kemperman Chally Kruse Carla Merkow Rebecca Parker Lonnie Plecher Barbara Root Jeff Sass Rosemary Sharpe Stephanie Slabodnik Susan Smacher Gail Smallwood Carolyn G Stafford Jeff Sweeney Jonathan Tjemsland Susan Tolley Stephen Van Denburg Karen Van Hatcher Sheri Vanderiet

Performers: David Abraham Spencer Andrews Colin Carmichael Flynn Collins Ayla Cummings Kathy Dawes Niel DePonte Abby Dixon Brady Doehne Abi Doehne Mier Donohoo Nial Donohoo Rowan Donohoo Will Dudley Betsy Edinger Diane Emord William Francis Ana Garcia-Peñuela Martin Garcia-Peñuela Diana Green Caroline Greenleaf Evan Gunter Chris Halaska Felix Halaska Finn Houston Isaac Ivy Zeke Ivy Celia Janoff Cullen Jones Barbara Johnston Matilda Johnston Will Kemperman Carla Merkow Charles Nesmith Jaike Parker Isaac Rains Charlotte Randal Jody Redifer Barb Root Jeff Sass Lakshmi Sawheny Ezra Schnadig Frannie Schnadig Theo Seidmon Rosie Sharpe Kaz Slabodnik Susan Smacher Gail Smallwood Charlie Smith Kelly Smith Michael Smith Monte Smith Olive Smith Carolyn Stafford Jeff Sweeney Lily Tjemsland Miles Van Denburg Karen Van Hatcher Sheri VandeRiet Delilah Weeden


Marimba Mike


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MarimbaLab™ is a fun after school music program (4th-12th grade) that uses diatonic and chromatic marimbas to teach non-percussionists basic technique, counting of complex rhythms, melody, harmony, dynamics, listening skills, ensemble skills, arranging, music notation (Finale), filming, recording, video and sound editing (Logic), music publishing, YouTube and how to work well together in a group.

Each group (or private student) meets before or after school 1 to 2 hours a week and it works like a little democracy. Students decide what song to learn/arrange by voting on the song ideas they come up with in class (usually popular songs).

Then, we arrange the song in class together by learning the harmony structure (chords), melody and rhythm making decisions on who will play what. This approach allows kids to learn the inside structure of the music they are listening to on the radio and what roll each part plays in the song (bass lines, chords, melody, etc.). The students and I arrange each player’s part to their unique ability making more advanced students part’s harder and beginner part’s more simple. Our warm-ups and exercises are also tailored to the techniques and rhythms that are used within each song, many exercises the kids come up with themselves (and name themselves).

We then seek out permission from the sheet music publisher to make our arrangement legal paying the correct fees, and sometimes seek permission to publish our arrangements for other groups to be able to purchase and learn themselves.

Yes, I sometimes go into publishing with 10 year olds….. I had my lawyer draw up publishing contracts that parents and kids sign and we share the profits (so far this is just a learning experience, we have yet to make any money).

All funds made from arrangements and YouTube will return to the program to buy new mallets, and hopefully someday make us enough money to buy chromatic marimbas for our grade school classes!!

Once we have our arrangement ready to perform, we film ourselves with a professional filming crew performing our arrangement, then post it to our YouTube station. This has become a really important part of our program as it motivates kids to do their best because it will live online forever! YouTube also offers the added benefits of:
-Tracking our progress
-Allowing for the sharing of our arrangements with out of town fans and helps us find new fans
-Learning to take criticism from strangers
-Inspiring other groups
-Earn extra income from monitizing videos with adds
-Learning how to deal with YouTube Trolls (unfortunately, comes with the social media territory-sometimes we vote and respond or not respond as a group)
-Occasionally getting to interact with famous bands/artists when they see our cover of their song!!!
  (So far, the band Grouplove (Shark Attack) Mackintosh Braun (We Ran Faster Then) and Parry Gripp (It’s Raining Tacos) have found our cover of their song and retweeted them!!!!)

Students have the opportunity to be involved in every part of the video/audio recording and editing process if they wish. Some students get into music notation and some get into audio recording and some just want to rock the marimba, we make room for all!!!!


Our future goals include:

-Recording and distributing our cover songs to iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, to earn more income and find more fans.

-Making tutorial videos to help other groups do what we do (including videos on technique, arranging, and recording)
-Raising $30,000 to purchase chromatic marimbas for our grade school to match our high school program (currently we are limited to diatonic Zimbabwean styled marimbas. This makes playing most Beatles and classical pieces impossible)
-Start an audio/visual club to film our events and other school events


Marimba is such a wonderful instrument to begin learning music on because it doesn't require the player to learn countless things before being able to make a beautiful sound!  -You don't have to tune the instrument, its always in tune. -You don't have to build calluses like guitar and violin. -You don't have to perfect your embouchure like when playing reed and wind instruments. Without these obstacles, songs can be learned in minutes and more time can be spent playing and HAVING FUN.   MarimbaLab™ focuses on learning popular music to keep kids (and adults) engaged. Also, melody and rhythm can be learned faster when students are already familiar with the song. All MarimbaLab™ sheet music has been arranged with permission for the copyright holders, and proper royalties have been paid to artists. All profits for these arrangements are split between the arrangers!
Please contact me with any comments or questions!!!!

*New Marimbalab™ Documentary*