FAQs – Music Program


Marimba Ensemble Classes FAQs



Q: What style of music do you play?
A: The marimba is played all around the world. We study and play both contemporary and traditional music of the Shona people, who are one of the indigenous tribes of Zimbabwe, as well as original pieces in a Shona style.



Q: What level of classes do you offer?
A: Beginning, Advanced Beginning, and Experienced (a wide range of intermediate players from beginning to advanced), as well as Youth classes from 6 year old to Teens.



Q: How do I know what level to sign up for?
A: Beginning is usually a good place to start since it provides good foundational information and technique, although someone with marimba experience can consider Advanced Beginning. This option requires one or more private lessons to audition and get started. Both of these classes must have an opening to be able to join. If there are no current openings you can put your name on a waiting list for the existing class, or for a new class. New classes start when there are enough people – tell your friends of your interest and they might start too.



Q: Where and when are lessons held?
A: There is an advanced beginning classes which meets every Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 pm at 1165 N.W. Monroe Avenue (First United Methodist Church building between 11/12th on Monroe) in Corvallis. Two intermediate classes meet Mondays at 4:30-6 and 6-7:30 at the United Methodist Church in Albany during the school year and in Lacomb during the summer. 6 year-olds are studying rhythm and marimba at the Sundborn Children’s House in Albany on Monday afternoon from 2:30-3:30 pm during the school year, and on Tuesday during the summer from 1:30-2:30. New classes start periodically in both Albany and Corvallis.



Q: How do I sign up for lessons?
A: All classes are given directly through Ancient Ways, a 501(c)3 charitable non-profit organization – contact Jaiaen Beck (windgatherer@ancient-ways.org) for more information.



Q: Who teaches the classes?
A: The primary teacher is Jaiaen Beck. She has studied Zimbabwean marimba music for 20 years, founded Ancient Ways, and carries out humanitarian work in rural Zimbabwe, completing her 14th trip in March 2010. Jaiaen has taught classes at Zimfest, served as in-residence in schools as well as participated in programs through other organizations such as the Arts Center in Corvallis.  Helen Six currently teaches the Advanced Beginning class in Corvallis.  Gary Spalter teaches the Youth class in Corvallis.



Q: How much do classes cost?
A: The base price is $15/lesson, but discounts may be applicable depending on if you are a member of Ancient Ways or have multiple family members enrolled. When there are an adequate number of students in a class then discounts can be applied. Contact Jaiaen for more specific information.



Q: How do I become a member of Ancient Ways?
A: An annual membership is $25 for an individual or family. A check, payable to Ancient Ways, can be mailed to PO Box 346, Scio, Oregon 97374.  A credit card can be used or given to Jaiaen directly.



Q: What does membership do?
A: Membership in Ancient Ways does a few things. It benefits members by entitling them to discounts on t-shirts and lessons. Having membership fees benefits the organization because these fees are put toward the cost of insurance for lessons and performing in public. This insurance is to protect the audience from getting hurt if we throw a mallet for instance, or to protect the place where we have classes – it is not for the performers. Performing is one of our prime methods of raising awareness of our mission, so insurance coverage is essential.  Membership fees also help support other administrative expenses of being in business, and being a registered non-profit.



Q: How and when do I pay for classes?
A: Please pay class tuition on the first lesson of the term, and pay for the entire term which follows the local school calendar. Payments can be put on a credit card monthly for 3 months.  During summer and holidays if you schedule a vacation please pay class tuition at the beginning of the term for the classes you will attend.  Discounts may not be available when taking a partial term.



Q: What if I miss a class? Do I get a refund or a makeup lesson? How do I find out what I missed?
A: Unfortunately, credit for missed classes cannot be issued. It is the student’s responsibility to connect with a classmate to find out what was covered during a missed class. Please email or call Jaiaen to let her know you are missing the class; it helps the group stay connected with each other, even when someone is absent.



Q: How will I ever remember all those notes being played?
A: Feel free to take notes, or better yet make a recording during class to play back and practice with during the week. Telephones, cameras, and recorders are all optional recording devices. Once you have learned some basic information, it gets easier and easier.



Q: I don’t own a marimba, can I still take lessons?
A: Absolutely, but it is hard to learn a musical instrument if you don’t have one to practice on. There are a limited number of marimbas that we rent out for $5/week. If you are serious about lessons, you may want to buy one (contact Jaiaen about new and used options) or to sign up for one of our community marimba building workshops and make your own.



Q: How much does building your own marimba cost? Is it hard?
A: It depends. A soprano marimba runs about $320 ($250 keys, $25 workshop fee, $15 hardware, $30 your choice of wood). The beauty of the community workshop is that we can help each other in the process. People with absolutely no woodworking experience have successfully built their own marimbas in a day at our workshops.



Q: What is the Mudzidzi Yahoo Group and how do I join?
A: This is our primary method of electronic communication. Messages, polls and set lists are all associated with the group. When you sign up for lessons, Jaiaen will email you a Yahoo! Group invitation to join.



Q: Who am I writing when I send a message to Mudzidzi?
A: You are writing to everyone else who has signed up. Some messages are pertinent to whole classes and others might be more individual. If you have a question for Jaiaen (or Helen Six, the teaching assistant for the beginning classes) and not the entire group, please use their individual email addresses.



Q: Is there a calendar of events for Ancient Ways?
A: Yes, there is a Google calendar on ancient-ways.org that lists lessons, rehearsal, performances, fundraisers, board meetings, etc. You can also access this calendar in the “links” list on the Mudzidzi Yahoo Group.



Marimba Performance FAQs



Q: Do we have to play at each performance that comes up?
A: No. Everyone participates as they are able. Performing is highly encouraged since one of the goals of learning the music is to perform. When you perform you learn more about your level of mastery of a given part and the song, helping you to evolve as a musician. Participating in performances is also a way that you support Ancient Ways in helping spread the word about what we do both here and abroad.



Q: How do I sign up for a gig?
A: There will be a poll for the performance sent to the Mudzidzi (Yahoo! Group) members. Polls are sent to each class that is invited is participate. Only answer the polls that are directed to your class. If you aren’t sure if you can make it, you can email Helen (helen.six@gmail.com) to register as “not sure” telling her when you might know. Ideally polls include the option of “maybe” and in either case, email Helen. If your life is apt to have unexpected events that might preclude you from sticking with your commitment, always reply as a maybe, then you can be added in during the last week before the gig.



Q: What do I do if I said I could play a gig, but I just found out I can’t?
A: PLEASE notify Jaiaen or Helen as soon as possible of any changes to your schedule. Ideally, if there is a doubt in your mind when you sign up for a gig, you vote as a maybe. It is far easier to add someone to the performance group than to take someone out at the last minute. Remember that this is a team event, and others are practicing their parts for the gig. It is very disruptive to have to shuffle parts at the last minute and can severely affect the nerves and performance of your fellow musicians.



Q: How early do I need to show up before a gig?
A: Show up to help set up 30-45 minutes before start time, depending on the location. If you aren’t helping to set up, and are staying to help load afterward instead, you still need to show up 10 minutes before the gig for a group circle meeting.



Q: What do I wear for a gig?
A: Wearing an Ancient Way t-shirt is optional, but highly encouraged. T-shirts are available for sale for $15 for non-members and $13.50 for members. Until you buy one you can wear a t-shirt that is similar in color. Sometimes people sell their used shirts. Black pants (or as dark as possible) are preferred. Shorts are OK in hot weather. There are very few performances where we don’t wear black on the bottom and you will be notified of the rare exception.



Q: Where and when do we rehearse for a gig?
A: It depends. The Intermediate classes in Albany usually have a set rehearsal day and time during the week before the gig. This is frequently Wednesday. Polls will provide other options as available. Sometimes Tuesday classes can rehearse prior to class if there are enough players from the class to hold their own rehearsal without the support of the other classes.



Q: What if I would like to play in a gig but I’m not available for the rehearsal?
A: Sorry, but we have learned from experience that it is critical for everyone playing in a gig to attend the rehearsal. Even our most experienced players only play in those gigs for which they can rehearse.



Q: Who sets up and takes down the instruments for a gig?
A: We do! Let’s divvy up the work so some people set up and others take down so that no one has to both come really early and stay late to the same gig (except the driver). Ask an experienced person to show you the ropes!