The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

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November 21, 2012

We Got The Beat

Old buckets help bring new music to students

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 — Booms and clicks echo down the corridor.

Staccato notes formed into rhythmic cadances greet the ears of anyone who enters the Albemarle Middle School (AMS) band room on Wednesday afternoons.

“We are a Stomp-like group that uses five gallon construction buckets for a drum line,” said Jessica Alvarez, AMS band director. “With the budgets being so low and because the cost of drum line equipment can be up to $10,000, we decided to take a different approach to forming an after school drum line.”

Alvarez detailed that they acquired all of the buckets necessary to have the club through various means, sometimes having buckets donated by parents.

“How did we get the buckets? We begged and borrowed,” said Alvarez.

“When I told the students about using buckets, my chorus students begged to be included,” she said.

The group consists of sixth, seventh and eighth grade band and chorus students. They meet every Wednesday from 2:45 to 3:30 after school.

“When we meet, we work on reading music and learning our cadences or beats, as well as cheers to go along with them,” said Alvarez.

One student explained what his favortite song to play was.

“‘We Will Rock You’ is my favorite,” said Ethan Corn, a seventh grade snare drum player. “We have fun with the bucket drums. I love to play. I have a full drum kit at home.”

“My music program demands discipline, respect and responsibility not only for their own actions but their peers,” said Alvarez.

“The band and chorus program has really grown this year. The relationships my students form with their fellow band or chorus students throughout the program is wonderful. Many of the older band students have decided to take time in the morning to help the younger students that are struggling.”

She explained that she allows them to use the band room and they practice pieces together, helping each other out when they can.

She feels that this allows them to see what a positive difference they can make in the life of another.

Alvarez believes that the program provides her students with an opportunity to communicate with other classes or grades that they otherwise might not have the chance to do.

Some of the students play their bucket-drums flat on the floor, while some like to clutch the container-turned-instruments in between their legs.

Other students had buckets affixed to their backpacks with duct tape, constructing a make-shift harness so that the bucket can be played whilst marching.

“I will march with my bucket back-pack,” said Anna Kambouris. “Trae McLain [the eighth grade drum captiain] came up with the buckets on the back-pack. I have one, Trae does and so do Manny and Tyler.”

Traditionally, middle school band students don't learn how to march; this is something that they usually wait to high school to do.

However, Alvarez has already begun to teach her seventh and eighth graders how to do so.

“My seventh and eighth grade band will be marching in the Albemarle Christmas parade, and we will be using bucket drums to march. I was told that they may be the first ever middle school to march alone as a middle school in the parade,” said Alvarez.

One student was happy to be marching, but a little bit nervous about performing in front of an audience, despite the effort and time the students have invested in their new-found craft.

“I feel shy about marching,” said King Medley, captain of the seventh grade drum section. “I hope some people won’t look at me as I march and play.”

“The bucket drum program has really brought a sense of togetherness and school spirit to AMS,” said Alvarez.

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