It is unique and unusual to use a bucket as a musical instrument. Use this novelty to grab the attention of your students but don't over do it. Don’t waste too much time marveling with your students about how unusual it is that a bucket or chair leg can make a great timbre. In other words: Ignore the instruments and focus on the music.
FIX: Instead, focus on the timbre each instrument creates. Emphasize the character of the sound, while de-emphasizing how strange the instrument is. Capture the attention of your students by performing different timbres on the same instrument.
Mistake #2: Getting students hopes up by showing Stomp at the beginning of the unit
Don’t get me wrong: Stomp is great. But it’s a theatrical show performed by adults, so don't show it at the beginning of the unit. The danger is that your students could be disappointed when they realize their performance isn't as fully choreographed or sophisticated.
Fix: Show stomp when you need to increase the creativity in class. Manage student expectations by showing videos that are similar to what will actually happen in their class, especially videos with performers close to the students' actual age.
Or better yet, at the beginning of the unit, YOU perform for the students. You don’t need a masters degree in percussion to sound like a boss on a bucket. Just practice two or three fancy sounding things; students will assume that you can play 100 fancy things(even if you can't!). More importantly, performing for your students shows that you are competent and capable. And nothing is more realistic or motivating than live performance. I will perform for two or three minutes at the beginning of the first class to prime student interest. Which leads me to #3...
Mistake #3: Thinking you can't do it because you're not the drumming type
Just because you aren't a card-carrying drummer, doesn't mean you should be intimidated by bucket drumming. I'm not the world's greatest singer, but I sing in my class because my students need to sing in order to learn. Your students also need to drum, so pick up those sticks and fake it until you make it.
Fix: Even if you’ve never touched a pair of drum sticks in your life, you simply need a little practice( maybe 5 minutes) and you will be more awesome at drumming than a 3rd grader (or whatever grade you teach). Keep your goal realistic: "I just need to drum two grade levels about my students. I don't need to be a pro."
Learn these two cool sounding (but simple to learn) grooves from:
Big Classes + Buckets are loud = Cacophony (and maybe hearing damage)
FIX: Have students work in partners. Both students have sticks; one drums on the bucket, the other drums on their legs. This cuts your bucket count in half. Your ears will thank you.
Mistake #5: Forgetting about movement
Fix: Get those students out of those chairs and moving around the classroom. Here are some ideas to start with:
Learn how to avoid these mistakes and a lot more by attending the 2017 Summer Junkyard Percussion Workshop. Hands on experience, lesson plans, and food!
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