Soft mallets Suck
I just wanted to make you look. Soft mallets don't suck. Well not all the time.
I saw a great student of mine play recently. He's a great up and coming vibe player I think. I was listening to him comp and could hear nothing. I know he could hear the instrument, I get that. If HE couldn't hear the instrument and he was comping (with soft mallets) then that's not cool. But I'm sure he could.
If he would have been using harder mallets I would have heard his attacks and then I would have probably been able to distinguish his sound and follow his music! But it was hard. Sometimes I heard a wash, I heard a bit of the vibes. Although without the attack he sounded like a guitar player doing that thing they do with the volume pedal to get rid of the attack. BTW I love attacks! (Actually that's why I like the sound of the Xylophone!)
I think all players should play and practice with hard and soft mallets. They should know the sound of both types and be able to make music and practice with either. I totally get practicing with soft mallets, but I think you should practice with harder mallets. Mallets with a bite to them. I think that's important.
I remember using soft mallets for ever. When ever I used hard mallets I couldn't do much of anything. I didn't understand the sound. I couldn't get ideas. Now I practice and play with both, my soft and hard mallets. On gigs most times I use the harder mallets and just play soft when I need to.
To me the moral of the story is: Can the people who paid money to come and hear you, hear you. If they can't then you wasted your time and theirs (Especially if they came to hear YOU). I'm not even sure if you should get paid at that point. I realize sometimes it's the bands fault. They're just too loud. I recently did a gig like that. So I'm just making a point here. It's our goal to make sure we are heard to the best of our ability.
It's our goal to make people love this instrument and it's sound. To make them go home and talk about the instrument and want to hear more. If we can't do that as players then we're failing. And that's not hard to do in most situations. Play the best you can and do everything in your power to make sure the audience can hear you.
What do you think? Just sayin.....