Featured Sheet Music
Arranged by Preston Bushnell and Michael Charles Smith for marimba quartet. Performed by Preston Bushnell, Dianna Hnatiw, Taylor Long, and Michael Smith.
*New Marimbalab™ Documentary*
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!!!!
THIS AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM IS DESIGNED TO BE FUN AND TEACH KIDS ALL ASPECTS OF MUSIC, PERFORMING AND MUSIC BUSINESS. WE ARE NOT A COMPETITIVE PROGRAM. WE ARE NOT PART OF A TRADITIONAL MUSIC EDUCATION PROGRAM. WE ARE TRYING TO DO SOMETHING NEW.
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
NOW, WHY RUN THIS PROGRAM WITH MARIMBAS?
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!!!!