I've previously posted a bunch of things that you can do to reduce the intensity and duration of bucket drumming. I'll also be posting a giant list of things you can do to reduce volume next month, but right now I thought I'd go in depth on one of the best techniques: Partner Drumming.
Drumming in partners allows you to cut your bucket supply in half which in turn helps to reduce the volume of your classroom. I started having students play in partners out of necessity: I simply didn't have enough buckets or sticks for all the students. But the math soon became clear:
Fewer Buckets = Better Music + Happier Music Teacher
Nowadays I never use more than 12 buckets at any one time which reduces volume and makes setup/hauling far easier. Students work in partners which accommodates 24 students plus a few keeping the steady beat with a glass bottle and shakers and you now have 30+ students.
So here are some thoughts about how to get it going:
1. Set Up
Have partners sit across from each other like so:
2. Make Sure Everybody Has a Job
- Air drum with imaginary sticks
- Chant the rhythm out loud
- Use body percussion to play the part
- Play a body percussion groove with their left/right neighbor
- Keep a simple, steady beat with body percussion.
Reminder: Make sure the students face each other.
Honestly, the most productive choice is for the non-stick partner to chant and air drum while watching their partner. Here's why: If their drumming is in unison with their partner, then they both know the part and are good to go. If they are not in unison, something is wrong but facing their partner gives them a chance to see what it should look like and hopefully adjust.
I know what you are thinking: "What if both students are confused?" Check out #3 for a partial (yet effective) solution.
3. Get Everybody in Circle
4. Get Creative With The Jobs
Student 1 Plays Unison #7 - Hand off Sticks - Student 2 Plays Unison #7
If you'd like to learn more in person, I run an all-day bucket drumming workshop each summer. Details can be found on the workshop page.