Wullie's a well loved cartoon character in Scotland. He even has his own merchandise store and surely the world's worst website ever..
He's not so well known anywhere else, (possibly because he speaks a Scots dialect and couldn't give a toss about the Internet)
But I've known him since I was a child and I know he's onto something.
That's because Wullie loves his bucket and throughout his adventures over the years, he's found a multitude of uses for it.
I'm a big fan of the bucket too. I can buy one on special for less than a dollar and I even get to pick the colour.
A basic hand drum is going to cost me $20. A good djembe or conga is going to be at least $200.
I can buy a lot of buckets for that.
Now I'm not suggesting for a moment that a one dollar plastic bucket sounds anywhere near as good as a half decent djembe but when I'm teaching rhythm to my year 7 and 8 classes it will do just fine.
The first five to ten minutes of just about all my classes are bucket based and usually based around a game or activity that gets the kids playing music for fun.
Here's a few easy bucket games I've invented/ adapted:
This is pretty much Simon Says.
I choose a 4 beat rhythm that is code for "put your bucket on your head".
Then I play various 4 beat rhythms which the class play back in a call and response pattern. When I play the Buckethead rhythm, the last person with a bucket on their hear is out and loses their bucket.
Each team has a different Buckethead rhythm. When I play a team's rhythm they have 4 beats to all get the bucket on their head to earn a point. Points off for getting it wrong. First to five wins.
This one is like Wink Murder. The detective leaves the room and a leader is chosen from the group to lead a rhythm. The leader should change the rhythm every 10-20 seconds, though subtlety is the key here.
The rest of the group protect the leader by following but not looking directly at him/her. The detective has 3 guesses to find the leader.
The old drinking game Whizz Bang Bounce is easily adapted for buckets and an absence of actual drinking.
Everyone sits in a circle.
One four beat rhythm means pass it on. Another means change direction and another pattern means skip the next person.
Keep the rhythm patterns simple but distinct and this game will be a big hit with your class.
Let's All Play Our Drum
I saw this on YouTube a couple of weeks ago and tried it with my classes. It went off like dynamite:
If you can't see the video the link is here:
Buckets are a great way to introduce rhythmic notation too. With 4 different coloured buckets, I can get a 4 part rhythmic pattern up and running very quickly.
Once they show me that that can do it on buckets, I'm ready to tackle that unholy alliance of classroom percussion: Triangles, Woodblocks, Drums and Tambourines, all played together.
And this will be the subject of a future blog.
Keep on rocking in the free world...