January 5, 2014 was a cold winter morning in Asbury Park, New Jersey – particularly for those who travelled from other parts of the country to attend the Second World Vibes Congress. The atmosphere at the Malletech factory was electric – most were still buzzing over the scene from the night before, where many of the greatest vibraphone players spanning several generations gave a “you-had-to-be-there” performance on a small nightclub stage.
It was a perfect staging for the highlighting the purpose of the gathering: the start of a conversation. Everyone in the room agreed that they shared a common, deep affinity for the vibraphone – albeit not the most “popular” musical instrument. The initial question, then, was offered:
The necessity of increased cultural (or public) awareness was by far the easiest point to agree on, leaving only the discussion of how to make it happen…
The floor was opened for perspectives, which quickly led to an amazing number of opinions and sub-points. Before long, it became obvious to all that the discussion was well beyond the allotted three hour timeframe. Nonetheless, it was established that there could be a goal in a future conversation for vibraphonists everywhere. This goal, succinctly stated by Gary Burton, is simply to promote vibraphone playing, and will serve as the mission statement for this website.
Now is the time for your participation. The intention is for all to contribute with comments and insight. Where this conversation starts and travels is completely up to those who participate.
After careful consideration for the website’s “re-starting” point for the discussion of promoting vibraphone playing, we will initially use three distinct perspectives, or “themes”:
- The Role of the Educator: How should the vibraphone be presented to the student at varying age and skill levels? Can a “balance” in education be attained that will challenge and inspire, instead of confuse and discourage, the vibraphone student? What are the current challenges facing the vibraphone teacher?
- The Role of Available Literature: It was agreed during the January 5 discussion that the vibraphone has enjoyed a traditionally strong place in jazz (where strong harmonic and improvisational skills prevail), and has slipped to a near insignificant role in a more “classical” performance setting (where technique and attention to detail of written literature prevail). Does this matter? What can be done to bridge this gap?
- The Role of Culture: It is commonly assumed that a widespread appreciation for [X] must begin with those most closely in contact with [X]. In this case, a greater appreciation for the vibraphone should start with musicians. What can or should be done to gain greater acceptance in the music community?
These perspectives appeared frequently during the January 5 discussion, and are re-stated here only as a starting point. Should any discussion thread appear to become a topic by itself, it will be separated into it’s own thread. We look forward to watching this community grow.