Learning your major scales and arpeggios has never been easier!

Being able to play a Chromatic Scale is one of the most essential fundamentals skills a percussionist should obtain. Start on the note “C” and play every key in half steps up and down the keyboard with alternating strokes (starting on either the right or left hand). Do not use double strokes when moving up the chromatic scale – the hands should alternate placement on the raised (accidental) notes.

The technique that you’ll use when playing the Chromatic Scale is very important! Always use full, relaxed “piston” stroke: starting with the mallet in the up position, strike the bar in the center over the resonator and immediately lift the mallet back up. Be careful to not play “into” the bar with a high-velocity stroke, which will create a harsh tone.

As you gradually increase the speed on your chromatic scale from Bronze to Gold levels, you may wish to play on the EDGE of the accidentals. Remember that the very best sound can only be achieved by playing on the edge of the bar, so be careful to avoid the “node” – the area of the bar where the string runs through the bar.

The Platinum and Diamond levels on the play-along tracks require a two octave scale (exercise #2 below). You may need to practice the 2 octave chromatic scale at a slower tempo before attempting to play with the tracks.

After mastering the chromatic scale starting on C, move to any other starting note on the keyboard.  The alternating stroke patterns will be the same (right and left hands alternating on the 2 and 3 groups of accidentals).


Selecting the right mallet for learning your scales and arpeggios is one of the most important decisions a percussionist can make. A great mallet will not only create the tonal color you’re looking for on each of the keyboard instruments, but the weight and balance between the head and the shaft will help you to develop a relaxed, fluid stroke on all of your two mallet exercises. We recommend these mallets as a great starting point for all percussionists to have in their bags!


These files are great for students to keep in their band binders!  For programs with large-format color printers, the Two Mallet Fundamentals poster is available in a high resolution graphic image. All the scales and exercises are available in the Two Mallet Fundamentals E-book for student reference at home or in the classroom! Easy to follow keyboard graphics make learning your scales and arpeggios a no-brainer for students at any level.

Are you a percussion instructor or band director who would like to have a full sized poster for display in your rehearsal room or private studio? Or a retail music dealer who would like to have a supply on hand for your school accounts?

Contact the Vic Firth customer service team to find out how to receive physical copies in the mail!

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