Bucket Drums

Course Instructor

Brett McCluskey

Course Information

On the surface, the Bucket Drumming course at the McKinney Center looks like sheer fun as students beat out hypnotic rhythm patterns with each other and split into duos and solos. But underneath the driving beats and contagious rhythms, students are receiving benefits that will enhance their overall learning and provide an increase in cognitive ability.

Additional Class Information

“I always want to make sure my students are having a good time and leave the class knowing how to read basic notation, but I want parents to know their students are learning more than that,” explains instructor Brett McCluskey, who has been a professional musician since the age of fourteen.

In the bucket drumming class, as students learn to play out whole notes, half notes, eights notes, and so on, they are also practicing math, particularly fractions. As they play together, they learn about group cooperation and deep listening, falling into the pattern of the group. As they move into their solo pieces, they have the opportunity to express their own creativity, and play their own creations for the group to listen to, play along with, and add on to.

The Bucket Drumming class is a great course for beginning students who want to learn something about rhythm and note reading. No prior experience is necessary, and the class is not just for students who want to learn the drums. Having the ability to understand rhythms and reading notes and measures is important for students who want to learn any instrument, as these are fundamental components of music making.

The class is designed to introduce students to the basics, with each class building on the concepts learned in the previous session. The group setting allows students to feel comfortable as they learn to play simple patterns together. Instructor Brett McCluskey, who earned his BA in Music Education from the University of Southern California San Bernardino, has an enthusiastic and playful nature that keeps students excited and involved as they move into more difficult patterns. He encourages students to fully participate as well as to practice at home, since repetition builds retention. Brett encourages parents to work with him as a team for each student’s music development. This includes praising their child’s progress, deciding on a practice time at home for 15-30 minutes per day, and to listen while they practice, knowing that what may sound like squeaks to our ears is really music-in-the-making for the student-learner.

At the end of each semester, students will have the opportunity to perform together with their Bucket Drumming piece that they developed in the class, including each student having his or her own solo section. This performance will take place during the McKinney Center’s Student Art Exhibition following the completion of the semester. This performance is free and open to the public, and is a great way to show off the students’ newly acquired skills.

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The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School is a multi-use facility providing arts education through Jonesborough's Mary B. Martin Program.


Phone: 423.753.0562

103 Franklin Ave.
Jonesborough, TN 37659