Young marimba students make a joyful noise at Festival of Trees fundraiser

Mike Lawson • News • December 8, 2015

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More than a dozen middle and elementary school students beat out the rhythmic tunes of Zimbabwe-inspired ballads and popular Christmas songs at the Festival of Trees at Valley River Inn on Sunday afternoon.

Standing in the background, and occasionally keeping the students to tempo, was Randy Moore, a retired music professor from the University of Oregon. Moore has now spent about 12 years integrating marimba into local music performances, including more than six years of volunteering his time at Adams Elementary School, where he instructs students in how to play the marimba. The marimba is a percussion instrument that Moore describes as akin to a piano, but “without the black keys.” The average marimba ranges from 4 to 5-1/2 octaves, meaning it has 49 to 61 keys, with bars made out of woods such as rosewood, paduak, bubinga, and mahogany. Moore also teaches the use of two bass marimbas, each composed of 10 keys. The marimba is similar to a xylophone, but has tubelike resonators underneath the keys to convey the sounds. The instrument is said to have originated from Chiapas, Mexico, as well as from several southern African countries, including Zimbabwe. Moore first started teaching marimba bands in Eugene in 2003, when he was still a professor at the UO. Moore taught music education at the UO for 29 years, after a career in Salem and Ashland public schools and in various music education positions throughout Europe.


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