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:
Taping sticks make them more durable, safer, and slightly quieter. They also look cooler.
Junkyard percussion is an extremely practical and musical performance ensemble for your students.
Unfortunately, some teachers who want to teach bucket drumming don’t feel comfortable enough to get started. Others just don’t know where to begin.
Here are some solutions to those common problems.
1. “It’s too loud."
It’s true: bucket drumming has a higher volume ceiling than other ensembles. But that should not deter you from teaching bucket drumming. Earlier this year, I described three simple/quick/cheap ways to reduce the volume of your classroom. With a little care, nobody should ever worry about hearing damage when teaching bucket drumming.
2. “I don’t know where to get the instruments."
Don’t worry, I do! Just use this shopping list to gather the instruments you need. The list explains what, where, and how much stuff you need. If you are looking for buckets on the cheap (or free) take a look at this list of bucket sources.
A common hurdle for music teachers new to bucket drumming is where to get the buckets. While buckets are very affordable ($3ish) from large hardware stores like Home Depot (the bright orange ones are my favorite), it's possible to gather them for free with a little leg work.
Below are all the places that I've heard music teachers say they've found buckets for bucket drumming. Some are donations, others are simply used and then tossed by the original owners. Feel free to post other sources in the comments.
Click here to download a pdf version of this list.
If you already have buckets and they get stuck together a lot, try some of the preventative measures in this post.
Buckets sometimes get stuck together, especially after they've been stacked for a prolonged period of time. This happens due to heat, too many buckets stacked together (too heavy) or just plain bad luck. A couple buckets may even get irreparably stuck together for good.
Below are some prevention ideas, later I'll talk about how to unstick buckets once they are stuck.
1. Toss a stick in each bucket before you stack it.
I'm excited to announce the 2016 Summer Junkyard Percussion Workshop! This all-day workshop will cover everything you could possible need to know about bucket drumming: what instruments you need, where to get them, how to use them, and much more.
If you are a music teacher and love to drum, this is the professional development opportunity for you! We'll spend the day performing and learning how to teach your students to drum with musicianship. You will leave will materials, lesson plans, and most importantly the confidence you need to teach your students.
And we'll have great food too! A delicious catered lunch will be provided along with breakfast and snacks throughout the day. The workshop will take place Tuesday, July 26th from 9:00-4:00 p.m. at Breck School in Golden Valley, MN. The school is easy to get to and parking is free. Contact me with any questions and I hope to see you there. Full info on the Workshop page.
Nobody likes a loud classroom. I recently subbed for a colleague and I had to wear ear plugs while teaching. It was intense. But volume-phobia shouldn’t discourage you from teaching bucket drumming.
Here are some ideas for keeping the decibels down in your drumming classroom.
Get some cheap hand towels from Target or maybe try these from Amazon. Toss them on top of the bucket or fold them once or twice first. When the sticks hit them, the sound will be dampened by 10-15 db.
Reducing the number of buckets is the quickest way to reduce volume. When students work in partners, your bucket total will be cut in half. I never use more than 10 or 12 buckets at a time. However, make sure that all students have sticks; this allows students to air drum when it isn’t their turn to play on the bucket. A lot more on this topic here.
3. Teach your students how to play quiet
This one may seem obvious/obnoxious, but a lot of the time, students drum loud because nobody taught them how to drum quiet. And if you are able to control the volume at the source, the other techniques in this post become failsafes. Teaching students to play quietly on the bucket is very doable. Here’s how:
Today I'm excited to present at The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Below is my handout and my slide presentation in case you are interested.
Click on the link below to download the handout.
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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