When something bothers me, I write about it. That is my philosophy, and if you look for a seed of inspiration in my writing, you will find that theme. As a percussion educator, much has bothered me through the years, and hopefully my articles and books have helped others who have been bothered by the same things.
The Classic Vibe is a book I was waiting for someone else to write for many years. “Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a vibraphone method book that was not jazz-based, since so many students come to it for the first time in concert band, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, front ensemble, or private lessons?” At the very least, vibraphone methods are scarce, especially compared to the abundance of marimba method books on the market.
No one did. In the meantime, I continued teaching vibes to my students using what resources were available, until I finally made the decision and commitment to do it. The first step was to reach out to my long-time friend, colleague, and PASIC roommate, percussionist/composer Josh Gottry.
Josh and I met through Arizona PAS Days of Percussion when I was at the University of Arizona and Josh at Northern Arizona University. Years later, Josh taught percussion lessons at Garland (TX) High School when I was hired as Assistant Director of Bands, a sure sign that percussion is an incredibly small world. I have always admired Josh’s work as a player, educator, and composer and wanted to know if he thought a concert vibraphone method book was a good idea, and if so, if he wanted to collaborate.
He immediately said yes, with the idea being I would write the text and he would write the music, with both of us chiming in on each others content along the way. What resulted nine months later was The Classic Vibe. One of our premises is that too many students are playing vibraphone parts without really understanding how to play the vibraphone.
Chapters include a brief history of the vibraphone, construction and characteristics, two-mallet fundamentals and repertoire, pedaling and dampening, four-mallet fundamentals and repertoire, and tips on how to practice – all from a concert percussion perspective. The book is currently in the hands of six esteemed reviewers and we plan to submit for publication later this fall.
Collaborating with Josh on this project has been a true joy, and we sincerely hope The Classic Vibe becomes THE “go-to” vibraphone method book for students and educators for years to come.