“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” – Sound of Music

Unfortunately, many of today’s beginning marimbists do not start here. This series will organize a huge amount of information about marimba pedagogy into a structured learning sequence. Dr. Gaines has spent four years researching hundreds of four-mallet marimba pieces to uncover what techniques and musical attributes were common at all levels. Her Performance Level System separates those broad labels into ten different categories of literature.

This video lesson series follows this highly researched sequence of four mallet technique. In each lesson, Dr. Gaines will discuss the fundamentals behind each new concept, demonstrate the techniques and provide an exercise that will apply the skill.

To get the most out of these lessons, we highly recommend that you purchase a copy of Julia’s book, “Sequential Studies for Four-Mallet Marimba: Level 1”. Ask for it at your favorite retail music store or order online from TAPSPACE.COM.


Virtuoso Series

Designed for the solo marimba performer, the Virtuoso Series features a rubber core wrapped with a wool blend yarn for an especially warm and full-bodied sound. The 17″ handles are made of birch with a unique slip-resistant finish for excellent feel and enhanced control. A fine choice in ensemble settings as well!

by Julia Gaines / Edited by Brian Tate

If you can read music, this text is the next step needed for learning four-mallet marimba. It includes twenty, sequential lessons with four or five exercises in each lesson that focus on different aspects of four-mallet technique. No matter what grip you play with, this text will work on your stroke, interval expansion, and stamina. Highlighted throughout the book are eight brand new beginning solos, three commissioned specifically for this book. All you need to do is pick your mallets and your grip and you’ll be playing your first four-mallet solo in no time!


Dr. Julia Gaines joined the MU School of Music faculty in 1996 as the Director of Percussion Studies. She received her DMA from the University of Oklahoma, her Master’s as well as a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and her Bachelor’s from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. She has performed in the percussion sections of the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra, the Fox Valley Symphony, and the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. She also has a history in drum corps culminating as a member of the 1989 Santa Clara Vanguard front ensemble.

As a performer, Dr. Gaines has been a soloist throughout the United States and in several countries including Brazil, China, England, and Russia. Her first solo CD, Tiger Dance, was released by Centaur Records in April 2017. As a pedagogue, she has sold books around the world. Her first pedagogical book, Sequential Studies for Four-Mallet Marimba – Level 1 has become quite popular throughout the US and abroad as the only beginning four-mallet marimba book of its kind. Level 2, The Heart of the Chorale, was published in January 2019 and the final book in the series is on the way.

Dr. Gaines has been a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) for thirty+ years. She has been the Vice-President and President of the Missouri Chapter of PAS and hosted the MOPAS Day Of Percussion in 2003 and 2012. She served on the International Board of Directors of PAS before accepting a position as Secretary on the Executive Committee. She was also an Associate Editor for Percussive Notes, the scholarly journal of PAS, with the primary responsibility of Review Editor and served in that role until the summer of 2014.

Dr. Gaines proudly endorses Vic Firth Mallets and Sticks, Pearl/Adams Drums and Percussion, Remo Drumheads, and Sabian Cymbals.


For nearly 60 years, we at the Vic Firth Company have focused on developing and manufacturing what has become the world’s most popular drumsticks, mallets, alternative implements, and accessories… with the best durability, feel, and sound options, across the widest variety of genres and styles.

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