Performance Level System
In 2007, the pilot project began with 50 pieces previously labeled as beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Dr. Gaines began listing all the components in these pieces. This included everything from rhythms, key signatures, and dynamics to stroke types, hand motion, and rolls. This first analysis document or "matrix" was successful in listing the facts of each piece but unsuccessful when trying to compare them. Slowly, after every new batch of pieces was analyzed, the matrix was revised to, as much as possible, objectively place pieces into comparable groups. Two of the most significant characteristics revised from the original analysis process was to factor in "stroke tempo" instead of the tempo of a piece and independence considerations. These were tedious to categorize but the end results were much more accurate.
After almost three years of revising the matrix, a final document has been created that collects over 200 details about each piece. The matrix makes the final Level assignment easier but is not always 100% correct. Music just doesn't fit into a neat little box and Dr. Gaines uses her expertise in the field and fifteen years of college teaching experience to help her subjectively make the final assignment. Not everyone will agree with every level placement of every piece - but there probably won't be disagreements by more than one level either way!
We are in the process of developing a mobile app that will aid students and teachers in selecting appropriate solo repertoire based on the criteria found in this research. Information about all the pieces (about 300) analyzed will be available in this app. However, on the next few web pages you'll find a short list of pieces at each Level to whet your appetite!
Keep checking here and our Marimba Levels Facebook page (link on home page) for more information on the progress of this module in Pocket Percussion Teacher.