Introducing A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion
         Speed Note Reading Tutor!

If you've ever wanted to get faster at reading keyboard music (and who doesn't?), then the "Speed Note Reading Tutor" is for you! Designed to reinforce note-naming and 'key finding' skills, this computer game is a fun way for beginning–intermediate students to get repetitive practice, while trying to 'beat the clock' and score as many points as possible.

Within each level, there are 100 notes to name - starting with simple "lines and spaces only" in Level One, eventually progressing to exercises which incorporate key signature changes and accidentals in Level Ten. Each level of play has 3 possible skill levels. The "Rookie" level allows a virtually unlimited amount of time to finish, "Pro" and "All-Star" levels require quicker responses - increasing the speed that you're able recognize notes on the staff and find the keys on the keyboard.

(Macromedia Shockwave Player Required - click here to download the free plug-in)

The "Speed Note Reading Tutor" is available as a fully-fuctionable demo here for a limited time. The full game on CD-ROM is available with A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion, along with other video tutorials for keyboard and timpani.

This game is the product of a basic concept that I use throughout my book: repetition and reinforcement as a means of developing better keyboard sightreading. Like the old typing classes of my high school days, constant reinforcement of new keys made finding the keys on the typewriter relatively painless (remember typing class? jjjjjjjj, ffffffff, jjjjffff, jjffjjff...). This game uses the same approach - just with a computer and a mouse.

What it is NOT is a substitute for a real instrument. I've got a host of ideas for the next version (keys that actually play the correct pitch, a version for bass clef, maybe a midi controllable keyboard in the place of the mouse)... But, as they say: every journey begins with a single step!

If you like the game, I hope that you'll consider purchasing my book. You can view sample pages from A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion and my 5 Minute Theory workbook here. Any questions or comments can be directed to me at

I hope you enjoy the game!

Mark Wessels

A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion
by Mark Wessels

There is no doubt about it: most of the "band method" books don't do the job when it comes to teaching beginning percussionists how to READ music!

A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion was written to address the specific problems associated with learning to play the keyboard percussion instruments.

•  Note sizes are very large in the beginning of the book and printed on the lower half of the page to facilitate the beginner learning to use their peripheral vision when locating the keys on the keyboard.

• "Speed tests" and written work reinforce basic music theory concepts.

•  Fundamental technique is addressed, as well as learning to read music in the bass clef - necessary for reading music for timpani.

In addition to graphical scale pages which help the student learn tetrachords and major scales, a nine page supplemental "mini-book" for timpani is included in the back of the book - providing instruction, exercises and solos for the beginning timpanist.

To purchase a copy of 5 minute Theory or A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion,
please contact your local retail music store
Retail and School ordering information is also available by writing to

About Mark Wessels:

Mark Wessels is the Director of Internet Activities for Vic Firth Inc. In addition to being a band director for 12 years in the Texas public schools, Mark is a respected clinician, adjudicator and author throughout the United States and is very active in percussion education.

His self-published beginner method books, A Fresh Approach to the Snare Drum and A Fresh Approach to Mallet Percussion are the number one beginning percussion methods throughout Texas, and are rapidly spreading to other parts of the country.