Frequently Asked Questions
"How did you guys find each other?"
We have met through university music or military music connections. Most recent guests have met through other professional music performance.
“What is percussion?”
Percussion is anything you hit, shake or scrape. A percussionist is often expected to be a multi-instrumentalist and to play in a variety of styles.
“What is a marimba?”
The simple answer is that the marimba is the “grand piano of xylophones”. Perhaps a more fun answer, one Colombian we met in a performance informed us that there, they call it the "piano of the jungle". The marimba is most frequently said to have originated from northwestern Africa, and through the slave trade, found its way to Latin America. Different indigenous versions exist across Africa and Latin America. In 1893 (or possibly 1896), a second row of keys was added to the instrument, giving it the same layout as a piano. After that time, the marimba found its way north to the U.S., where it then became incorporated into western (and especially classical) music throughout the world. It is a choice solo instrument of classical percussionists. Similar instruments exist throughout the world, such as the vibraphone, strohfidel, glockenspiel, and dulcimer.
Though the technical difference between a western marimba and a xylophone has to do with the tuning of overtones, there are other notable differences. A marimba tends to be much larger, it normally has wider keys and it more often includes a bass range (where a xylophone usually does not). Also, the xylophone is most often thought to have come to western music in Europe via gypsy culture.
Many people from many parts of the world have approached us during performances and have given appreciative feedback as we play “an instrument of their country”. It is truly a global instrument.
“What wood are the marimba keys made of?”
The choice material for marimba keys is Honduran rosewood, which is a dense wood with a warm, resonant tone. However, this wood has been over-harvested and there are now rosewood import restrictions in much of the world, including Canada as of 2017. As time goes on, the instrument is becoming more difficult and more expensive to obtain. Alternative materials include Kelon (a synthetic material) or Padouk, an African hardwood. We usually perform on a Korogi 5 octave rosewood instrument which was imported from Japan in 2011.
“What is the Sticks and Stone concept?”
The concept centers on three musicians on one marimba, or two musicians on one marimba plus one on drum set. It is an answer to the question, “what would be the simplest, most versatile percussion ensemble that could also actively engage with the widest audiences? For some occasions, we bring additional percussion instruments, including vibraphone and glockenspiel, djembe, congas, cajon, Korean Samulnori drums and gongs, triangle, wind-chimes, guiro, and many others!"
“What is your stage setup? How much space do you take?
“What types of music do you play?”
Pop, rock, jazz, video-game, world, classical, ragtime and any other requests we receive.
Most often, we find audiences tend to prefer:
1. Upbeat music and
2. Music they recognize.
We tailor to our occasion and our audience. We also seek to creatively explore new music, as well as to educate and broaden people's musical horizons. Above all, we seek to have music making be a joyous, uplifting experience.
Can you play ________?
If you would like any particular music for an occasion, be sure to let us know well in advance. We are able to arrange and accommodate any style or genre. Here is a table showing some of the diversity of our repertoire.
How do you move your instruments? How long does it take for setup and take-down?
The marimba is 105kg (230lbs) and deconstructs into 11 cases, which can fit into most vehicles. The amount of time to setup and take-down depends on the circumstance. Ideally we are able to park as close as possible to the performance location and plan to arrive one hour before the performance. If there are are stairs, other complications, or additional instruments, we will arrive earlier. Sometimes we construct the marimba away from our performance area before wheeling it to position.
“What type of events do you perform for?”
We are open to performing for any type of event. Particulary, we enjoy playing for festivals, educational performances, and corporate events. We have literally performed for 5-year old birthday parties and 85-year old birthday parties. Packed rock venues and for more calm church-going crowds.
Please do contact us if you have any questions! We would be excited to bring an amazing and unique experience to your occasion.
"What if the weather is bad for our outdoor event? If we cancel at the last-minute, do we still have to pay you?"
If we have committed to an event, it is in both of our interests that we go forward.
Do you have a contingency plan for bad weather? You probably should.
We have an outdoor tent we can fit the marimba under if need be, in the style that vendors use at markets.
When it snowed in September, one festival we worked with moved many of their events to indoor community and business centres while adding many Mongolian-style tents for other outdoor events.
-Contracts can be made for guarantees to both parties, if needed.
"How much do you charge for an event?"
Let's talk! You want an amazing and unique experience from a group that can bring you something no one else can.
We love to perform and would like to share our joy through music with you. At the same time, we have a usual interest in striving for sustainable business, so that we can continue to do this for people like you.
There is a degree of subjectivity to art valuation, but we would like to base pricing off of reasonable and objective standards (we can also reference past events or the events of others). Keep in mind that practice, transport, arranging and administration time vastly exceeds the actual time you see us performing. Even if only performing for 45 minutes, this likely involves 4 hours of transport time alone (1hr setup/takedown on each end).
Let's find the win-win scenario!
This might be with some basis on "what seems reasonable for the situation?". If we are requested to play for a millionaire in a fancy hotel (actual situation) or a large corporate event (actual situation), we should probably charge more than for a non-profit smallscale community event (a regular request). We might also have consideration of how much work or preparation is required for the event.
As someone (group leader) with an education degree (as well as music degrees), another question often asked is "What wage would three teachers be paid to show up for a day's work?".