Mentoring Program

Flying To A Beat

This is a fast moving tempo in the beginning than gets slower to signify where gliding may happen to a bird. This song sort of follows a birds flying habits. Speeds up than glides.
Grade Level: 8
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: Vibraphone and Marimba Phone
Key: c major
Meter Signature: common time
Tempo: 120
Status: Work in Progress
Noteflight URL: Website Title
Located in: Crossett Brook


#7 Erik Nielsen 2017-05-04 10:27
Dear Ellett,
Congratulations. See you this afternoon.

Best wishes,
#6 Ellett Merriman 2017-05-02 16:03
Thank you I finished
#5 Erik Nielsen 2017-05-01 09:49
Dear Ellett,
Thanks for posting the latest revision of your piece. Yes, you have certainly changed it again so it's now just for solo vibraphone once more. This is definitely the clearest version so far. There are still a few things that need fixing, but they won't take long. Here they are.
1. You need to put the instrument name at the top somewhere. Otherwise, how will anyone know what instrument this is for? All we'll have is the printed music. You can add it to the title: "Flying to a Beat for Solo Vibraphone" or you can just click on the Instruments logo above the piece (it looks like a guitar or violin). Once that opens up, on the right of the menu is a box that says "Show". If you check that, the word "Vibraphone will show up next to bar 1 and "vib." will show up before each line after the first. Either way will work, but it needs to be taken care of.
2. Bar 1 needs a dynamic mark, but bar 16 doesn't need the f since it's there in bar 15. Bar 33 (after the rest) needs a dynamic mark. Is it still mf or is it softer? The playback is softer and if that's what you want, mark it p or mp.
3. The playback uses some pedal; otherwise the sound of each note will be VERY short, so I'd say to click the first note of the piece, then click on the T (for "performance text") in the tool bar above the piece (ask Mr. Liptak if you need help) and type "with pedal" in the little box that will show up above the first bar.
4. One final thing. The sixteenth notes in bar 19 will be very difficult to play at this tempo, so I'd suggest you get rid of the lower note of each 16th so we just hear single notes. It will be much easier for the musician.

Okay, Ellett, that's it for today. This needs to be taken care of ASAP to get the music to the performer before the concert Thursday. Please let me know if you have questions.

Best wishes,
#4 Ellett Merriman 2017-04-28 11:29
Changed it again!
#3 Erik Nielsen 2017-04-25 09:47
Dear Ellett,
Thanks for posting the first revision of your piece. I'm glad to see that you've modified it to include both vibes and marimba. That will make it possible to be played. Let me give you some further suggestions.

1. Keep in mind the capabilities of the instruments. With its metal bars and damper pedal, the vibraphone is much better at playing long notes than marimba, which has wooden bars with very little sustaining ability. So passages like bars 3-5 and 11-14 will be more effective if you reverse the parts. The vibes solo in 15-21 will be more successful as a marimba solo, since its strength is playing faster passages clearly. So look at the music and reverse the roles each instrument plays as needed.
2. So much of the piece uses the same pitches in both parts that it's hardly worth having two instruments. I'd suggest that for passages such as bars 29-38 you drop the marimba part an octave so we can hear both lines. This is also true in bars 1-8, 44-48 and 65-70.
3. The marimba needs more dynamics. And remember that percussion instruments can't make a crescendo on a long note unless there's a tremolo (ask Mr. Liptak about that).

Ellett, your piece has made progress. Now if you can work on the areas I've mentioned, it ought to continue to get closer to a final version. Please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your next revision.

Best wishes,
#2 Ellett Merriman 2017-04-24 15:05
I changed my song.
#1 Erik Nielsen 2017-04-19 10:19
Dear Ellett,
Thanks to you, your teacher and the folks at Musicfirst, I can now see and hear your music. I will be your primary mentor in working on it with you. I like that you've written a work for solo vibraphone, one of the few I've seen at Music-COMP, if not the only one. You have established C as the keynote quite well and I also like that you have an opening melodic idea that comes back several times during the piece.

My main concern is with what we call playability. That is, unless you are counting on two vibraphones, which isn't indicated in your description of the piece, vibraphone, unlike marimba, uses only a single staff. Of greater importance is that you have both hands either hitting the same notes at the same time, as in bars 2, 7, 10 and a lot of other places, or the hands suddenly crossing, as in bars 3, 12-13 and other places. Not only that, but very few vibraphonists play with more than four mallets, so your chords that have five or six notes, as in bars 5, 7, 10 and other places, can't be performed by most players. Here are some suggestions for possible solutions:
1. Move everything onto a single staff. That way you'll see the spots where the hands cross or overlap and you can adjust. It might eliminate some of the extra notes and you can then adjust further by moving what is now the right hand up an octave for at least some of the piece. Since the highest note on the instrument is F above the third ledger line above the staff, you have a lot of room to move up for a good deal of the piece.
2. Another option is to change the instrument to marimba. The left hand is usually written in bass clef and you can move some of what you have now down an octave, as long as you don't go below the C below middle C, and you can also move the right hand up an octave for a lot of the piece. Not only that, but at least some marimbists (not ones in high school usually) can play five or six notes at a time. Since none of your piece uses the vibrator or the pedal, the difference in sound won't be that great.

Ellett, your piece is off to a good start musically. If you can deal with the issues I've raised, you ought to be able to refine it more in your next revision. I look forward to seeing it. Please write a note here as a comment to let me know what you have done and I'll know to check again.

Best wishes,
Erik Nielsen
Senior Mentor

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