Online MarimbaLab Lessons are finally here! Learn to play marimba from the comfort of your home through custom arrangements of your favorite songs! Learn basic technique, how to read music, song structure, music theory, and how to arrange music for marimba. No marimba, no problem! All lesson and small group packages include a Marimba One - 3 Octave Practice marimba, stand and a pair of mallets. Scroll down for a more detailed description of small group and lesson structure!


Lessons include:

-Custom songs arrangements

-Custom practice routines and practice videos

-Custom play-alongs tracks for exercises

-Weekly lesson notes and practice plans for accountability

-Access to all "bespoke" online lessons and music games like "The Rhythm Trials"

-Private Dropbox folder to access practice materials and lesson notes anywhere!


The Basic- $140 per month for 9 months (or $1260 paid in full) includes:

-3 octave marimba-mallets-stand

-MarimbaLab Class Fee

-Access to all online lessons and content


The Awesome- $200 per month for 9 months (or $1800 paid in full) includes:

-3 octave marimba-mallets-stand

-MarimbaLab Class Fee

-1 private one hour lesson per month (or two 30 minute lessons each month)

-Access to all online lessons and content


The More Awesomer- $300 per month for 9 months (or $2700 paid in full) includes:

-3 octave marimba-mallets-stand

-MarimbaLab Class Fee

-3 private one hour lessons per month

-Access to all online lessons and content


More detail:

I have a plan for this school year and it’s going to be epic! As many of you know, I have been busy restructuring my marimba instruction to be effective online and doing virtual projects during quarantine. I now feel that I offer a better lesson on Zoom than I ever did in person and releasing the MarimbaLab Virtual 1.0 "Lean On Me" project has given me the confidence (and proof) that we can definitely continue with MarimbaLab classes virtually in the fall and accommodate everyone that wants to participate. I have learned how to exploit the benefits of teaching online in private lessons and have figured out how to scale this up to work at the small and large group levels. It might be hard to imagine how this could work at the group level, so let me explain a little. Online Classes use these techniques:

-"Everyone Mute But Me" group playing - everyone mutes and plays along with a track I play from my end while I watch and take group notes. If I can see all students' hands and marimbas I don't need to hear them to see when kids get off in timing, when wrong notes or incorrect dynamics are played, and can give direct feed back through class notes.
-"Un-muted Beat-less Group Playing" - everyone un-mutes and sustains (rolling on marimba) single notes that together make up chords. I signal moving on to the next notes visually to change chords. That way students get the feeling of playing in a group and hearing one another without having to deal with the latency, which is perfect for sight reading exercises.
-"Taking Turns" - I demonstrate a technique and then individuals un-mute when called on and try to repeat what I did.
-"Normal Lecture Mode" - I talk while everyone is muted and then ask individuals to un-mute to answer questions or demonstrate competency.

This will not be the same marimba program we have had for years. This will be a brand new, more awesomer program offering a well-rounded music education for your children. In classes, kids will be:

-Learning to read and perform complex rhythms and time signatures through fun counting games (Check out The Rhythm Trials Videos to try the first lesson).
-Learning to quickly identify notes in treble and bass clef (progress is timed and tracked)
-Learning basic music dynamics
-Learning the physics of sound and how that applies to the marimba
-Learning different key signatures, song structure, and basic music theory through analysis of popular music
-Learning how to arrange popular music for marimba and become a published music arranger IN CLASS!
-Learning multiple parts of group arrangement if student needs to be challenged
-Learning how to edit audio in Logic Pro
-Learning how to edit video in Final Cut
-Releasing Inspirational Virtual Marimba Videos to share with the world!

Here is how it will work:

MarimbaLab classes/lesson/rentals will work on a monthly subscription (or pay in full for the same total price) with a 9 month commitment. I need to have full school year commitments to justify buying more instruments and creating the massive amount of supplemental online content before we start in October. Monthly fee totals will depend on how much private instruction your child needs/wants and whether or not you need an instrument. Each student/household will need a three octave chromatic marimba (minimum) to participate in this program. We will no longer be using diatonic marimbas in MarimbaLab. Marimba One has just released a three octave practice marimba that will be perfect for virtual home classes and lessons. I plan to make a bulk purchase of these marimbas and rent them to all students that need one for $50 a month (9 month commitment). All of the chromatic instruments I own are currently rented out, so each new student will have to rent or purchase a marimba to participate. Let me know if you want to purchase a marimba, I can get a little bit of a discount with Marimba One. Each student will have an instrument at home to take advantage of daily practice "Bespoke" materials so there will be no limit to the amount of progress a student can make!!!!

MarimbaLab Class fees will be $90 per month per student and include:
-2 one-hour Zoom large classes per week OR 1 small (4 person) class per week
-picking songs (songs will be picked democratically in class)
-arranging songs
-creating practice videos/tracks (for songs arranged in class)
-final virtual video performances uploaded to YouTube - each student records their part (or multiple parts) with provided phone mic and we put them together into one big video like with Lean On Me.
-music theory
-Private Group Dropbox with practice tracks, theory videos, group notes, full class videos recorded through Zoom
-Free Access to All Bespoke Music Games and Lessons
-Access To All Office Hours to ask questions or work on parts
-Classes may vote on hiring outside Video Editors to edit final projects which will cost extra.

MarimbaLab Private Lessons ($60 per lesson) includes:
-private instruction
-custom solo/duet/quartet song arranging (get to pick your own song)
-creating custom practice plans getting to work at your own pace, not the groups!!
-solo video creation and editing

Marimba One Chromatic Three Octave Practice Marimba Rental $50 per month includes:
-one pair of mallets
-marimba cover
-X stand for marimba
-marimba can also be put up against the wall when not being used to save space!!!


"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!!!!

Purchase "Piano Man For Marimba Quartet" on Sheet Music Plus: CLICK HERE!!!

*New Marimbalab™ Documentary*

MarimbaLab™ at Riverdale Grade School:

MarimbaLab™ Private Students

MarimbaLab™ Arrangements