Learning to Play the Xylophone




Introduction: Learning to Play the Xylophone

The information needed is basic music theory, but if you have never played a xylophone or the piano before, it would be easy for you to get lost in this intractable. You must first understand that different notes are present for each note on the xylophone, as seen in diagram 2. Also you must know what a C-major scale is. This sequence of notes involves the playing of notes upward or downward on the xylophone until the note is again reached. In order, the C-major scale notes would be: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. To complete the C major scale sequence, you must then play the notes backwards, C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C. The other notes are used for other scales, but you will focus on the C-major scale.

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Step 1: Achieving a Relaxed Posture

Before even picking up the mallet, you must consider how to stand, when approaching the instrument. For the best, most consistent sounds, you need to ensure you are relaxed and standing in a balanced position. Your legs are spread shoulder width apart, ensuring that your shoulders aren't hunching over or you chest too far out. Your arms especially are relaxed and are naturally hung by your side. An example of this is seen in diagram 3, where the person is demonstrating ideal standing posture while playing the xylophone. The hard part is ensuring that you maintain this posture throughout the playing of the C-major scale.

Step 2: Holding the Xylophone Mallet

When you grab a hold of your mallets, there is a specific technique that you need to use in order to ensure each note is consistent. This also ensures that your hand looks aesthetically pleasing and feels natural when you play. The first and most important part of holding the mallet involves the fulcrum. As seen in diagram 4, the fulcrum involves the "pinching" of the index finger, and the thumb finger onto the mallet. Make sure you are not squeezing the mallet keeping your hands and wrists relaxed. Once you have ensure this, you wrap the fingers around the mallet, making sure that you do not grip the mallet tightly. Lastly, you turn your hand over, so that the top of your hand is parallel to the ceiling.

Step 3: Moving the Xylophone Mallet

From the correct holding position achieved in the third step, you are ready to learn how the mallet moves. Tilting only from your wrist, and holding onto your fulcrum, you must raise the mallet leading with the ball at the end of the mallet. In diagram 5, it clearly demonstrates where you should "pinch" with your fulcrum and which end of the mallet must move up and down in order to ensure your best sound. Once lifting the mallet, you must let gravity return your mallet downward until it strikes the xylophone. After your mallet hits the xylophone, make sure you return your hand to the upright position, to prepare for your next stroke.

Step 4: Deciding Sticking

When you play a C-major scale, you have to take into account which hand you are gonna use on each note of the scale. Since there are 8 notes in this scale, and were are moving up the xylophone at first (left to right) it would make sense for you to start this scale with your left hand. Then by alternating hands, (left, then right, then left, etc...) you can easily navigate up the xylophone. When descending the xylophone, (right to left) you do the exact opposite, starting with your right hand, so it is easy to move down the xylophone.

Step 5: Apply Skills

Lastly, you must use all of these skills to play the perfect C-major scale. To you, it may seem like an easy task, but if you do not pay attention to each step, it could lead to a bad sound on the xylophone. Remember to keep your posture, maintain your fulcrum, rotate from the wrist, all the while thinking about which hand you will need to use to play the next note. Once you can focus on all of these things while hitting the correct notes on the xylophone, you have correctly executed the C-major scale on a xylophone.

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    3 Discussions


    4 months ago

    This is the only good information I found,so helpful.Thank you for sharing this


    2 years ago

    This is such helpful info! Thank you so much! While I dream of playing xylophone, my current musical instrument is a glockenspiel, the mallet / hand positions are interchangeable, I believe.


    3 years ago

    Very good information. Thanks for sharing this!