There are hardly words to describe the sound of the Marimba. This instrument brings to life a unique sound that is reflective of the person playing it, as well as the origins of the instrument itself. Normally considered a type of xylophone in the West, the Marimba has a much more diverse sound palette, particularly when played by a master like Joel Laviolette.
Joel began his journey with Zimbabwean percussion after hearing a mbira play, and was inspired to immerse himself into the music, people and culture of Zimbabwe. He has dedicated close to 20 years of his life to the study of the mbira, Marimba, and those cultural roots within the Shona people of Zimbabwe, Africa. While traveling through Zimbabwe and Africa, Joel became a magnet for local and international attention, as he performed and recorded the music that drove his passion, helping to give a new voice to the traditional sounds. This dedication to his art and understanding of the instruments and music of the Shona have evolved into an Austin, Texas phenomenon with his Rattletree Marimba sound – mixing modern electronica and traditional African marimbas with a stage show like none other.
Joel is the founder of the Rattletree School of Marimba in Austin, Texas. Rattletree School of Marimba has educational programs that encourage the development of music and rhythm skills while teaching kids, teens and adults the beauty and joy of the marimba. Classes are available for all levels of experience, and all ages can join in the fun together with a new class for families! Rattletree School of Marimba is also a co-sponsor of the Austin Community Drum Jams, helping to bring local residents together with a full experience of percussion instruments and drums.