Last month I was fortunate enough to present at the Minnesota Music Educators Association Midwinter In-Service Clinic. The topic was about movement activities for K-12 students in the music classroom. We had a great set of volunteers to perform the different activities. The handout is below and you can download it here.
Note: A different version of this material was first published in Reverberations on AOSA's website. Re-used with permission.
Movement is critical to student rhythmic development. The coordination of gross motor skills builds both steady beat skills and establishes the foundation for audiating meter. The Rhythmische Ubung by Gunild Keetman is an excellent source for movement development.
The 78 pieces for body percussion cover a wide variety of meters, phrase lengths, and orchestrations and many of the pieces can be adapted for junkyard percussion.
For example, #51 utilizes gross-motor movement and looks like this:
Teach your students this piece on body percussion over the course of several classes. Then add buckets once they are successful. Another idea is to have students use 'imaginary' buckets until they know what they are doing. A group performance can happen in two straight lines or even better, two concentric circles like this:
Here is one of my favorite bucket movement inventions from the past few years:
The best part about this thing is that I have no idea how it was created because the students figured it out on their own. The steps that led up to it's creation were pretty simple: I showed the students a basic movement groove(Click here for video), how to slide the buckets, and I explained the safety rules involved (no buckets getting thrown over other students etc...) Then I just told them to take 10 minutes and compose something. Anything.
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.
I'm David Birrow. I teach and play percussion. This blog is a companion to The Bucket Book. Contact me at : David@TheBucketBook.com or learn more about me at: www.DavidBirrow.com
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