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The Additive Method Of Two-mallet Study

By Gene KoshinskiThroughout my career I have taken special interest in the two-mallet keyboard percussion solo repertoire. The music is eloquent and rich from its early stages in ragtime xylophone to today’s contemporary art music. Key performers such as George Hamilton Green, Sammy Herman, Clair Omar Musser, Bob Becker and Evelyn Glennie have dazzled audiences with their mastery of two-mallet technique.

Throughout the past several years I have researched and analyzed a variety of topics related to two-mallet performance. Most recently, I developed a method of two-mallet keyboard study which I call The Additive Method. This method offers the percussionist the opportunity to create a personal practice routine which can evolve along with the performer’s needs. In addition, The Additive Method is beneficial for beginners, intermediate players, and the most advanced performers. This article will present just a portion of examples out of the thousands of possible exercises within the method.

The Additive Goal

The Additive Method was created through concentrated study and analysis of the two-mallet keyboard percussion solo repertoire. The method targets the most common technical issues found throughout two-mallet works. Over fifty standard two-mallet works were analyzed in order to discover the twenty most prominent technical problems seen throughout the entire repertoire (*see figure 1). The discovery of these twenty recurring technical problems led to the development of twenty categories of exercises, each category corresponding to a specific technical issue.

All of the exercises are based on the same simple procedure. These exercises, if practiced and performed properly, will help the percussionist develop more facility than traditional keyboard exercises. The goal of this method is to provide the percussionist with a solid technical foundation as well as impart all of the technical tools necessary to properly perform solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire.

*Figure 1

Diatonic ScalesLeaping Double Stops
Chromatic ScalesIsolated Rolls
Pentatonic ScalesLegato Rolls
Octatonic ScalesDouble Stop Rolls
Major/Minor ArpeggiosOctave Leap
Extended ChordsLarge Leap (over 8va)
Isolated Double StopsPedal Pitch
Parallel Motion Double StopsGlissandi
Contrary Motion Double StopsGrace Notes
Double Stop Octaves Moving ParallelIndependence

The Additive Procedure

The key to the method is the additive procedure and the percussionist should always perform each exercise within this procedure. Rarely does a keyboard passage in the solo or chamber repertoire use an entire scale or arpeggio moving in one direction. Most traditional two-mallet exercises only target such an occurrence. The additive procedure will prepare the percussionist for nearly all possible technical situations.

Additive Process1-2, 1-2-3-2, 1-2-3-4-3-2, 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2, 1-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-3-2, etc

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