Bucket Brigade

October 28, 2016

I love Friday afternoons – not because the weekend’s coming, but because that’s when Mr. Greg’s Bucket Brigade class meets.

We each get a five-gallon blue Lowe’s paint bucket that we turn upside down. Then we bang out rhythms on the bottom of the bucket. There’s just something so elemental and visceral about banging on a drum, even if it’s not a real one. It makes me think of that old Todd Rundgren song, “Bang the Drum All Day,” and its chorus: “I don’t want to work/I want to bang on the drum all day./I don’t want to play/I just want to bang on the drum all day.”

On Friday afternoons, we get together and get rid of some excess energy by pounding on a blue plastic drum, but it’s also a very clever way to learn tempo, volume, beats, how to follow the director, and how to play in unison. (And eventually, we learn how to play with our own particular group while others are playing something different.) We learn how different notes have different values. For example, beating out the word “apple” has two beats or two quarter notes, while “watermelon” has four beats.

Mr. Greg has us beat our name in rhythm. He has us beat our favorite food and our favorite TV character. (SpongeBob SquarePants is well-loved.) We even learn how to beat the drum rhythm to Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

We’re learning so much about the basics of music without even realizing it – and it’s enormously fun.

~ Nancy Stetson


Nancy Stetson is a writer for Florida Weekly in Fort Myers, FL. During the 2016-2017 school year, she will be attending MusicWorks! as a student participant and documenting her experiences in a series of blog posts and news articles.

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