lessons in improvisation and jazz vibraphone/marimba

From July 2012 I will be offering lessons in improvisation and jazz interpretation on vibraphone and marimba. Lessons will be in my home studio where the student and I will have enough space for collaborative music making and exploration.

In these lessons I want to help students explore their own musicality and give them tools to encourage them in improvisation, performance in jazz styles, song writing and composition. Students in high school and university are welcome as are adult learners. Students should probably understand the basics of keyboard percussion and need to bring a set of four marimba or vibraphone mallets.

A typical lesson might have some of these activities:

  • free form improvisation in a particular scale or key
  • creating and recording a simple piece by putting together riffs or chord progressions
  • looking at a jazz standard and working on accompanying and soloing from a written chart

Of course, I’m happy to help students with any aspect of their playing.

instruments: Musser M55 Vibraphone, MalletKat (4 octave) location: Charles’ home studio in Ainslie, A.C.T. price: $80 per 1 hour lesson. contact: 0419 176 858 or through the contact page above.

Recommended Mallets

If you don’t have any mallets, here’s a few models that are good for starting out.

Handbook for Percussion

Table of Contents:

  • Required Equipment
  • Warmups and Rudiments
  • Snare Drum Pieces
  • Drumset Patterns
  • Keyboard Percussion Exercises
  • Keyboard Percussion Pieces
  • Syllabuses
  • Buying Percussion Instruments

Beginner’s Percussion Pack

Here’s a list of sticks and mallets that are appropriate for high school students in concert band, orchestra or percussion ensemble. Optimum Percussion (Sydney) can give good advice on purchasing concert percussion equipment.

  • Snare drum sticks: Vic Firth SD1
  • Drumset and other sticks: Vic Firth 5A
  • Marimba Mallets: Innovative Percussion IP240 (set of 4)
  • Vibraphone Mallets: Innovative Percussion RS251 (set of 4)
  • Xylophone Mallets: Innovative Percussion IP902
  • Timpani: Innovative Percussion medium-hard timpani mallets
  • Mallet Bag: Optimum Percussion large stick bag


Most of my students learn drumset, snare drum and mallet percussion. In drumset, my teaching style emphasises études, ensemble performance, reading and improvisation. Students perform carefully composed études that allow us to play together or for students to play in small groups. The études are supported by rigorous technical training in rudiments and individual drumset grooves to develop students' coordination, stick control, touch and tone.

The result of this training are students who are ready to read charts and perform in school stage bands as well as start their own bands and ensembles based on song writing and improvisation.