Blog Posts Bucket Drumming

Easy Bucket Drumming

Bucket drumming is a really engaging activitiy for your music classes. It’s inexpensive to equip a classroom with buckets and sticks, and they are easy to stack and store, so bucket drumming is an activity that’s accessible to all.

Buckets: What kind of buckets should you get?   You can use all shapes and sizes of buckets. I’m fond of the sound that Costco laundry detergent buckets make. Ice cream stores sometimes give away large ice cream buckets. Home Depot and Lowes have 5 gallon buckets that they sell for $3.97 Canadian. If you take in a letter from your school requesting a donation, they may give them to you. (One teacher reported that the Lowes buckets don’t stick together) If you’d like to create a complete Bucket Drumming ensemble, you’ll want buckets of varying sizes.

Sticks: You can use rhythm sticks, dowels or drum sticks to drum on the buckets. If the noise gets to be too much for you (or neighboring teachers) cut pool noodles into 12-14” lengths and drum with noodles.

Resources: Easy Bucket Drumming is an excellent resource to start with. The resource includes a teacher’s guide, PDF projectables with embedded audio, MP4 videos of all 18 selections (no page turns!) and the audio recordings. It’s available as a Book/Disk resource and as a download. The projectables and embedded audio make this really easy to use in the classroom.

Canadian Teachers:

USA Teachers

Hand Position: The first thing you need to teach the students is how to hold drum sticks. We illustrate in the projectable PDF the  correct / not correct ways to hold the sticks. If you have Orff instruments, you’ll want the students to hold drum sticks the same way they hold their mallets.

Parts of the Bucket: We illustrate in the projectable PDF the parts of the bucket that we’ll be playing on: sides, top, rim, click sticks. We’ve done the music notation in that order – it’s big, clear and easy to read, and makes logical sense.

Our 18 exercises begin by teaching the students to read the notation playing on just one part of the bucket at a time. Even though the first exercises are simple, the accompaniment tracks make them fun to play! The first performance piece is Dance of the Reed Pipes from the Nutcracker. It’s simple, but a a very effective arrangement you could use in a holiday concert.  To play along, just click the play button twice.  OR – you can play the MP4 video so you don’t have to turn pages.

What Grades/Ages can Bucket Drum? We taught the lessons in Gr. 3-6 classrooms, so ages 8-12. Younger students can learn to play bucket drums, but you’ll need to spend more time on each section. I find it harder to engage older students, so like to “save” something fun and different for the kids that are harder to engage. For that reason, I’d suggest saving bucket drumming as something special for your older kids.

The second performance piece, Liberty Bell March, uses accents, and both hands playing together. This piece would be a great assembly performance. If you set up a projector at the far end of your gym (behind the audience) and project as large as you can, you could have the students follow the movie as they perform. It would look kind of like this:

Bucket Drummers                             Audience                            Projector – projecting onto back wall

Alternately, the arrangements are so intuitive that your students could memorize them, and you could lead them through.
Here’s a link to a performance of Liberty Bell on YouTube:

Sticking: The sticking in bucket drumming is similar to the sticking on a drum set. Bucket drumming is great preparation for playing a drum kit. In this resource, we wanted to develop some hand independence. Bat Rap sets this up.

Teaching the parts first with body percussion, then with sticks helped our students to be successful.

Click sticks = snap
Rim of the bucket = clap
Top of the bucket = patsch
Sides of the bucket = stomp

We used body percussion to teach the Music Rules, then had the students transfer the body percussion to buckets.

Improvising: Buckets are a great instrument to try improvising. In songs 11-14 opportunities to improvise are given. You could have the whole class improvise, but it tends to be very loud, so we suggest inviting smaller groups of students improvise and have them switch off with other groups.

Pop Songs: Playing with pop songs is fun for the kids. Songs 16-18 are arrangements of original songs by Craig Cassils. Teach these new arrangements using the Projectable PDF or the MP4 video. Then, go to the PDF one page form chart and you can play the same arrangement with a pop song. We can’t include the music for the pop song, but you can download on iTunes or play it on YouTube. The 3 pop song arrangements included in this resource are Freedom Flag – can be played with Wavin Flag, We Love Dancing – can be played with Better When I’m Dancing and Can’t Stop the Feeling.

If you’d like a workshop on Bucket Drumming, contact Denise Gagne –

Denise does workshops on many topics for elementary music teachers: PreK-6 curriculum, singing games, listening, recorder, creating/composing, ukulele and more!  Denise has given workshops in every Canadian province/territory, and all 50 states.

12 replies on “Easy Bucket Drumming”

Thank you! I’d be happy to contribute to a bucket drumming article. It’s been a lot of fun teaching young kids to bucket drum!

HI! We are going to build a Bucket Drumming section for Musicplayonline but it will be in addition to what’s in this collection. Easy Bucket Drummng is a fabulous resource!

I would love to learn more about workshops offered. I have the singing/movement games books but am struggling on where to put them in my lesson and how to teach them well. I am very interested in the Bucky drumming curriculum as well. I just got 20 buckets donated to do bucket drumming!

This is the workshops page on our store site – we need to put in the 2020 list though!
I did a Kindergarten workshop yesterday at a small school in Alberta. Coming up next:
Jan. 31 – Calgary Catholic District
Feb 7 – Early Childhood in Calgary
Feb 20-21 New Jersey MEA in Atlantic City
Feb 27-28 Colorado PD day for Thompson SD
March 6 – Ottawa Catholic PD, Friday and maybe Saturday
March 13-27 Music and Literacy in Belize with Literacy Alive
April 15-18 TNMEA, Nashville
April 24 – Spring Fling in Prince George
July 21-22-23 Artie and Denise in Indianapolis
July 31-Aug 1st – Growing in Grace Conference, Dalton GA
I’m always happy to come and do workshops as time permits!

This is a link to a pretty good list of my workshops:

I need to update with my virtual workshop topics/sessions
1. Practical Activities for Post Covid Classroom
2. Fun Movement Activities for Zoom Lessons or Spaced Class
3. Adapted Singing Games for Spaced Classes (#1 or #2)
4. Ready to listen
5. Love to Listen
6. Rhythm Fun And Games
7. Ukulele Fun
8. Instrument Kits and Creating Kits
9. Outdoor Music Classes
10. Using Musicplayonline in your virtual teaching

Hello Denise,
Is it possible to purchase the images that you have added to this post so I can learn how to do bucket drumming with my students?


I love this resource and own a copy. Sadly the PDFs require flashplayer which is no longer supported. Do you have the Interactive PDFs in another format?

Yes, we do. We have gone back to providing PowerPoints. Email to request the PowerPoint for it. You also have all the pieces from the book as videos. I really like using the videos on multi-page songs.

We now have 8 bucket drumming lessons on – these are really good too. Lessons 1-4 are in Online Learning-Middle School, and Lessons 5-8 are Online Learning-General. We’ll be putting them into a new section on our new website. ( right now)

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