Then the students did what all middle school students tend to do with an open ended idea: they took it to the next level. In other words, they composed something far more fascinating than I ever could AND they were into it because it was their idea.
But even more than that, the students rehearsed themselves. This isn't a positive because I'm a lazy teacher, it's a positive because students tend to communicate with each other far more effectively than a teacher can.
Even if I wanted to rehearse this piece myself, I couldn't. The students were the insiders who contained all the experience and information on how this thing worked. Just now, 2 years later, it took some effort for me to even figure out how to explain it.
The diagram of this piece looks like this:
The thing that kills me is how simple the rhythm is:
And yet the end musical result is complex and the performers have an exciting and engaging time. The students even figured out a contingency plan for what happens when there is a bucket collision: chuck your bucket in the middle. Piece over.
Give your students some experience moving buckets. Feel free to try some of the ideas from these videos(Click Here). Then try giving your students an open ended composition assignment and see what happens. If we get out of the way of our students, they sometimes create music far above their current achievement level.