To Reflect is to Learn is an early 4-mallet study that may also serve as an effective short and somber recital piece. A wide variety of fundamental playing techniques and dynamic fluctuations appear during the course of the work, offering students the opportunity to cover a great deal of basic technical ground within the context of a reflective musical work.
I originally wrote To Reflect is to Learn as a 4-mallet study for a student with strong reading and underlying percussion skills but comparatively little marimba-playing experience. The challenge with composing any instrumental study is to create music that instructs the student while maintaining the listener’s interest. In this case, an added challenge was to offer a broad survey of techniques to the aspiring mallet-player within a work of short duration.
The title, To Reflect is to Learn, can apply to the technical lessons present in the piece itself, but was itself born from musing on the difficulty of teaching students effectively and unhurriedly within a culture heavily biased toward hasty activity and reaction without the benefit of careful reflection. Action without prior reflection is often wasted action at best, and dangerously shortsighted (and often self-destructive) action at worst, whether we refer to practicing instruments or living our daily lives. The music is appropriately somber and – I hope – inspires reflection.