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R!Solo: April Showers, Yellow Flowers for Solo 4-Mallet Marimba by Michael Varner

Apr 6, 2020, 08:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

“April Showers, Yellow Flowers” is an accessible work for four-mallet marimba that may be performed on a 4-octave or larger instrument. Here are a few other notes for your consideration as you prepare this solo:

1. It may be performed with traditional, Stevens, or Burton grip.

2. Sticking indications use the standard marimba solo numbering of 1, 2, 3, 4 (left to right) with mallets 1 and 2 in the left hand and 3 and 4 in the right hand.

3. Four medium-soft yarn mallets are recommended or, alternatively, a graduated set of soft, medium, medium, medium-hard (left to right) as seen and heard on the video.

4. Maintain a relaxed, legato sound and stroke throughout.

5. In the opening measures connect the rolls as indicated by the slur mark. I suggest leading with the right hand. Leave a slight break between measures 2 and 3 and strike all the notes of the chord together.

6. Always bring out the melody slightly: for example, emphasize the right hand in measure 17 and the left hand in measure 18.

7. Feel free to add appropriate phrase shaping such as a slight increase following the contour of the melody for measures 5–10.

8. Maintain a consistent rhythmic pulse in measure 27 through 29. Do not ritard until marked in measure 30.




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Dr. Michael Varner recently retired after 36 years as Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington.  Previously he was Director of Percussion at Western Michigan University. He holds a degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University, a Master’s in Performance degree from the University of Michigan, and a Doctorate in Performance from the University of North Texas. With a long history as a performer he presents new and time-honored repertoire to the highest standards, having presented percussion clinics in every state, Europe, and Japan. He has written for nationally recognized DCI and WGI marching groups including the Chicago Cavaliers and the Toledo Glassmen. Under his leadership the University of Texas at Arlington Drumline performed with consistently top rankings at many PAS events. His interest in world music led to research in Nigeria and Ghana. His article “Skin That Speaks” was published in Percussive Notes. His interest in composing has led to many commissions with over 20 published works, and he is a member of the PAS Composition Committee. For more information visit

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