20 Best Marimba Book Reviews 2020 (Best Books to Learn Marimba)

Best Marimba Book

Best Marimba Book

Marimba is one of the oldest instruments that are still used now to produce music. However, with time there have been a lot of updates and transformations to the instrument since the 16th century. It has been a prominent part of Asian and Western culture. With the changing times, a lot of modifications were made to the old bow marimba, as it was previously used. It slowly gained its significance throughout the world.

Therefore as the prominence of the instrument increased, so did the need to learn and master playing the instrument. At first, it was initially played for lighter music and dancing, namely the stage and comedy plays of Vaudeville. Over time, composers began founding new techniques to play the Marimba and combine it with modern music.

If you are looking for a Marimba book buying guide then rest assured, there are a lot of books that provide perspective, information on changes, and detailed description of the movement of the instrument.

What are the Best Marimba Books to Buy?

2) Nancy Zeltsman: Four Mallet Marimba Playing

  • Commentary & Performance Tips
  • 50 Studies to Develop Four-Mallet Technique
  • Suitable For All Levels

1) Rubank Elementary Method: Marimba or Xylophone

  • Clear Class Instruction
  • Study Approach: Scales, Arpeggios & Technical Studies
  • Ideal for Students

3) Leigh H. Stevens: Method of Movement for Marimba

  • Natural Motion
    / Movement Aids
  • Way to Hold Mallets
  • Comfortable playing

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The text explains how to play four-mallet, the kind of sound produced by different types of the mallet, development of tones, adjustment of intervals, and the movement across the Marimba.

Whether you're a starter or an experienced marimbist looking to improve his/her skills, then the wide array of different Marimba books ensures that there is something for everyone. So the buying choice, at the end of the day, relies on what you're searching for. The book guide makes it easier to read up on different types of Marimba and its features and find the one that suits you.

20 Best Marimba Book Reviews

1. Rubank Elementary Method: Marimba or Xylophone

The book by Howard M. Peterson is read a lot by students of all levels. It offers a step by step instruction on how to go about playing and practicing the instrument. The book is perfectly suitable for students who are starting to learn about the methods and techniques needed to play the Marimba.

The instructions are easily comprehensible and provide an easier approach regarding musical instruction, which will help train students for beginner and advanced level learning. After you are finished going through the whole guide book, you will end up with a basic idea of what Marimba is and how to play it.

Afterward, you will be able to practice songs on the instrument. Students who are starters seeking to practice Marimba should buy this set, which will help them practice it easily through the class like instruction given. So there is ample material available for students of all levels.

2. Nancy Zeltsman: Four Mallet Marimba Playing

This book is designed for the players of all levels, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The book includes various musical compositions for players of any level to harness their skills to an advanced level.

With a set of etudes, it helps the players of any level to practice playing the instrument with the different instrumental compositions in the background. The compositions are taken from both classical and modern solo work, with step by step instructions and different tips to master the method of four-mallet.

For percussionists, the marimba solos allow them to practice keyboard percussion. The text offers all the guidelines for the different types and selection of mallets, the production of tones, how to grip the mallet, and other guidelines to develop the technique. It contains 18 different classical and modern marimba solos written by some of the greatest composers, such as Leonard, Beethoven, Bach, etc. So, the book is designed to help marimbists harness their skills to perfection.

3. Leigh H. Stevens: Method of Movement for Marimba

Leigh Howard Stevens’ The Method of movement for marimba by is one of the most popular Marimba guide books. Leigh Howard Stevens is renowned as the foremost classic marimbist of the world, his repertoire extends from medieval compositions to the preludes of J.S. Bach, to existing Marimba pieces composed especially for him by modern composers.

The literature was considered by a single person to be practically and musically inefficient until the new four-mallet system was developed by Mr. Stevens.The four-mallet method has been acquired by several players and composers. The book was converted into six different translations. Much of the existing marimba playing method, the style has fundamentally improved with the technique of Leigh Howard Stevens’.

The book offers a guide around natural motion which can help with the production of sound, Stevens grip, and what material is used to make it, and afterward, harness this method while playing.

4. Rain Dance: Marimba Unaccompanied

This piece was composed by a renowned composer named Alice Gomez in collaboration with Marilyn Rife, specifically for those novice marimba players who are looking for a comprehensive, pragmatic, and an easy to understand the book for unaccompanied marimba. This is why this book has now been known to be one of the most popular and sought out books for unaccompanied marimba in places, such as schools.

Rain Dance by Alice Gomez and Marilyn Rife contains many different materials that are useful for novice marimba players and teachers as well as supporting texts for those materials, along with melodic statements that are clearly detailed yet simple.

Those who listen to this composed piece of unaccompanied marimba will be given the ability to enjoy various unique syncopated rhythms, four-mallet, as well as for left-hand work that is independent, all throughout this composed piece.

5. Patrick Roulet: Christmas Carols for Marimba

This book by Patrick Roulet is a collection that consists of both songs as well as carols, which the author drew out from the valuable customs that are followed by Yuletide. Each of the carols that are mentioned in this book has been presented two different versions; the two-mallet version and the four-mallet version so as to reach mallet players of all difficulty levels.

Both of the versions can be played by a solo mallet player as well as a group of mallet players. The arrangements that follow the two-mallet version can be performed by using instruments, such as a conventional assortment of orchestra bells, the marimba, and even a vibraphone.

While the four-mallet compositions can be performed by using an instrument known as a low A marimba that has a four and one-by-three octave. The collection itself includes Auld Lang Syne, We Three Kings, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and many more.

6. Florence Shaefer: Xylophone and Marimba Method

This book is an instructional book that has been specifically designed by Florence Shaefer as an instructional book specifically for all the novice and beginner players of the xylophone as well as the marimba method. Before this book gets into its instructional side, it first introduces the reader to the comprehensive and interesting history of Florence Shaefer.

Apart from that, the instructional side of this book contains a foreword that is directed towards teachers, which consists of a guide for the entire book.

Furthermore, the book consists of useful and interesting facts about xylophones and marimba, a step by step guide for students on how to hold mallets correctly, a guide on standing positions along with supporting images for teachers, the fundamentals of music and mallets, various theories of music, exactly one hundred and seventy-four short exercises, and more.

7. Anthony Cirone: Masterpieces for Marimba

As a percussionist, if you are looking to master solo playing, then this collection from the finest musical literature guide book is meant to meet the needs of the percussion keyboard. It contains a selection of items dating back to the time of Baroque music set for playing the instrument solo.

The book allows you to explore different composers like Bach, Handel, etc. The masterpieces for marimba contains two mallet pieces to choose from the repertoire, and it gets you started on the fingerboard. So when you are learning to play marimba solo, it is important to note how large of a marimba instrument you will end up purchasing.

If you are a beginner, buying a 5-octave marimba instrument would be adequate as you can play around and brush up playing solo literature. The masterpiece set for marimba provides a real depth regarding different pieces from various times, to fully absorb you into the style you prefer.

8. Marimba: Technique Through Music

If you are on the lookout to have an introductory book about learning the method of playing with four-mallet, then this is it. The whole book is written to explain the techniques for easy comprehension, so it helps the players to build a solid marimba playing skill through practice, which will help train them for beginner to advanced level of four-mallet learning.

With a set of etudes, it helps the players of any level to practice playing the instrument with the different instrumental compositions in the background. The method guide book is preferable because it allows the marimbists to have an understanding of how to choose the type of mallet, the type of material which is used to make it, different sounds it produces, and the method of playing with four-mallet.

The collection book allows instructions for intermediate level learners on how to play the four-mallet, so they can harness their skills of playing the beautiful instrument.

9. Walt Hampton: Hot Marimba

This book on Zimbabwean style music has been written by Walt Hampton, specifically for off instruments and hot marimba. The hot marimba is a genre of music that has been inspired and derived from traditional Zimbabwean music. By using this book, you will be able to commence an ear training program, improve and strengthen your rhythm, enhance your ability to improvise, and even learn all of the techniques that are associated with the cooperative composition.

Apart from that, this book by Walt Hampton includes many different items for your students or you, such as nine graded step by step guides for the required skills on the xylophone, copy-ok scores for all of the nine graded step by step guides, a guide on how you should approach each of these step by step guides, a comprehensive background on the Zimbabwean and American marimba ensembles, suggestions for performance as well as teaching, and more.

10. Making Marimbas and Other Bar Percussion Instruments

This book was written by Bart Hopkin along with Carl Dean for the purpose of teaching the reader the ways of making bar percussion instruments as well as marimbas. The other various instruments include instruments that have sounding bars that are constructed using different types of materials, such as metal, bamboo, wood, and more.

The difficulty levels of all of the instruments that are mentioned in this book vary from beginner level to intermediary level all the way till advanced levels.

The most sophisticated and difficult to make bar percussion instruments include instruments, such as the fully chromatic marimba which features overtone tuning as well as air resonators that are tuned, making this instrument will definitely give its maker a professional level status, as its difficulty level is on par with instruments that have actually been constructed by professionals. The book also features an in-depth exploration of both acoustic and practical aspects.

11. The Beatles for Marimba

Any mallet player should have this book, as it is fun to play. The songs can be played by a player of any level, beginner, intermediate, or advanced. The set contains a total of sixteen classics produced by the Beatles, which includes, let it be, Yesterday, Hey Jude, Norwegian Wood, And I love her are amongst the few.

The compositions and arrangements are easy to practice and play. The sounds produced also matters the size of your Marimba, if it is a 5-octave instrument, then the songs play beautifully on it without changing any notes. The book is for anyone who is a fan of the classic exponents of music who took the industry by storm.

Players who are beginners seeking to practice playing the instrument should buy this set, which will help them practice the Marimba with each piece of music in the background. It will not only help you to develop your skills but will also encourage you to enjoy performing the compositions on your own.

12. Yellow After the Rain for Marimba

The well-known former percussionist and timpanist, Mitchell Peters is known for the composition of some of the beautiful pieces, including Yellow after the Rain and Sea Refractions. The composition of the pieces took place due to the fact that Peters thought that a gap existed in the musical material for the four-mallet marimba method.

Many books about timpani etude are still widely used. The book offers the perfect guide for building up the marimba technique through music. As a percussionist, Peter still teaches his students and provides music lessons. Having been written by a former timpanist, the book is perfect for students learning to practice playing four-mallet marimba on their own.

After you are done reading the entire book, you will end up having a better understanding of the techniques needed to harness playing the instrument. The compositional pieces by Peters will aid in the process of perfecting it.

13. Image: 20 Children's Songs For Marimba

This book is essentially a compilation as well as a songbook that was written and composed by Bart Quartier. This songbook has been specifically designed for children who are interested in becoming marimba players. It consists of a collection of exactly twenty original pieces, where each individual piece is referred to as a short work.

These pieces are known to be valuable and worthwhile additions to the library of literature on solo marimbas. Each piece is used to shine the light on techniques that revolve around idiomatic four-mallet.

All of the pieces are composed to grab and retain the attention of children, which is why it is a great approach that has been used by various teachers for young solo marimba players. The twenty short works that make up the contents of this songbook include the pieces known as, mobile, fuzz, imitation, skip, teething, and more.

14. Keiko Abe - A Virtuosic Life

This book is essentially a biography of Keiko Abe that has been written by Rebecca Kite. It is a tribute of sorts as Rebecca Kite lists the untold story of the revolutionary and innovative influence that Keiko Abe had on the development as well as the growth of the music instrument, that is, the marimba.

Apart from the biography of Keiko Abe, Rebecca Kite has also written a comprehensive and easy to follow the history of marimba music, where it originated from, its composers, performers, as well as the history of the xylophone.

The book explains the way, Keiko Abe, was able to transform the historic version of the marimba into the solo instrument that it is today, which comprises of five octaves. Each copy of the book comes with a compact disk that includes various examples of recordings that are both rare as well as historic.

15. Walt Hampton: Marimba Mojo

This book is essentially a songbook that revolves around the magic of marimba specific to the Orff instruments and was written by Walt Hampton who is a renowned percussionist and music educator. It also a sequel to Walt Hampton's popular book named "Hot Marimba!, Marimba Mojo". This songbook consists of twelve additional pieces, which are all unique and have been inspired by marimba music, which is specifically played by the Zimbabwean Shona people.

Marimba Mojo is particularly popular amongst marimba fans that are located in the north-west region of The United States of America. The songbook consists of twelve pieces that are essentially preliminary musical exercises, such as the Musasa.

Apart from these twelve musical exercises, this songbook contains copy-ok scores that are relevant and specific to each individual piece, arrangement suggestions that are specific to each piece as well as performance suggestions, rehearsal suggestions, and many more items.

16. Anthology of Lute & Guitar Music for Marimba

This collection on the anthology of marimba for lute music and guitar music was composed and compiled by Rebecca Kite and is known to be a valuable addition to the set of music from genres, such as classical music, renaissance, baroque music, and the romantic eras of music.

This collection has become a must-have resource for professionals, such as professional marimbists, teachers, as well as students from all across the world. It is also sought after as the initial and introductory study that revolves around four-mallet marimba. This collection consists of thirty-one pieces that start from the introductory level and go all the way to the advanced levels.

Apart from that, this collection also consists of world-renowned pieces, that are, Recuerdos as well as Leyenda. All of these pieces are suitable for everyone in every setting as they suitable for recitals, sight readings, style studies, and even practices that have a technical nature.

17. Patrick Roulet: Folk Songs for Marimba

This book is a compilation of folk songs specifically for marimba that have been composed and combined by a skilled composer named Patrick Roulet. Each song that exists within this collection has been inspired or derived from traditions in the realm of rick folk music that is prevalent all across the planet.

Furthermore, each song follows a uniform pattern of arrangement, where the first thing is the folk song's tune, after which is a two-mallet variant of the song using either double stops or rolls, which is then followed by a four-mallet variant. 

This arrangement is suitable for both beginners and experts of mallet playing as its contents fall in difficulty levels that range from beginner or introductory levels to an intermediary level until advanced levels of mallet playing. The advanced mallet playing level is specifically for those who are seeking sight-reading material that revolves around four-mallet.

18. Percussion Keyboard Technic: Marimba

This book on percussion keyboards was written by Thomas McMillan, specifically for those students who are currently learning at an introductory or beginner level. The techniques mentioned in this book will assist those who learn from it to progress according to their own abilities as well as capabilities, as it allows students to continue at their preferred pace.

This book will also help students in sustaining their motivation as well as their interest through the artful use of music that is both unique and of high quality. Apart from that, this book has also been used by advanced level players as a way to enhance and improve their reading and to further the techniques that they use during their rehearsal or performances.

Its contents are various types that revolve around the different types of music, such as marimba music, drum sheet, and more. This book is particularly popular across The United States of America.

19. Music for Marimba - Volume II

This book is a compilation of marimba music that has been composed, compiled, and arranged by Art Jolliff for all of the mallets played instruments that currently exist. The book is considered to be a songbook as well as a collection that specifically consists of two mallets along with three mallet solos, which are further accompanied by the piano for ease of understanding.

This volume on marimba music was specifically designed for teachers however, this songbook can still be used by students, for the specific use of learning. The difficulty level of this volume is quite low, which is why it follows a similar approach to other introductory or beginner level music courses.

It also consists of various songs that are considered to be marimba solos, such as the spinning song, as well as the renowned song known as Largo from the New World Symphony.

20. Four-Mallet Independence for Marimba

This book that revolves around the use of the four-mallet marimba instrument has been authored by Johnny Lee Lane along with Samuel A. Floyd Jr. and has been edited by Jr. Walker and Richard, specifically for beginner level marimba players.

This book consists of musical exercises along with progressive and informative studies that have been progressively arranged in a format that will allow the reader to study its contents in depth. The book also consists of musical, guides, and artistic examples that will help all novice and beginner mallet players to build a foundation that is solid as well as strong.

The reader must work through this book carefully as well as thoroughly after which the reader will have acquired the skill that allows them to independently manipulate two mallets in each hand, a skill that is not common to see.

Choosing The Best Marimba Books

If you're searching for a perfect marimba book buying guide then you wouldn't have any better choices than the ones above. These are some of the best marimba guide books that can help the player of any level learn, practice, and master this instrument in no time. After you have picked up on how to play the instrument, you can choose to buy the type of marimba that suits for you, after learning the range, resonance, and types of mallets.

2) Nancy Zeltsman: Four Mallet Marimba Playing

  • Commentary & Performance Tips
  • 50 Studies to Develop Four-Mallet Technique
  • Suitable For All Levels

1) Rubank Elementary Method: Marimba or Xylophone

  • Clear Class Instruction
  • Study Approach: Scales, Arpeggios & Technical Studies
  • Ideal for Students

3) Leigh H. Stevens: Method of Movement for Marimba

  • Natural Motion
    / Movement Aids
  • Way to Hold Mallets
  • Comfortable playing

You can create some very unique music with it. So it depends on the person, and if they are a beginner, it will be preferable to buy a small octave instrument and learn the techniques through the help of the book guide. That is why it is important to purchase a guide book and form an understanding around the instrument, what type of literature you will play, and spend your money accordingly.

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