The fourth graders at Putnam Elementary School march to the beat of their own drums — plastic buckets to be more precise.
Teacher Carmen Holbrook created the school’s first bucket band this school year to teach students that music exists in many different forms.
“The bucket band was something fun for the kids to participate in, learn about rhythm and just have a good time and enjoy music” Holbrook said. “The kids really got into it.”
The students use a standard plastic bucket and drumsticks to create their own unique sounds.
The bucket band is composed of two fourth-grade classes, practicing every Friday during class. The two classes came together recently to perform at the local Burger King, as part of a school fundraiser.
Holbrook tries to instill a love of music into the students, teaching them about classical composers and even adding some science terms into the mix.
“There’s a real need for music in our elementary schools,” Holbrook said. “We are not only learning about music but also how their elbow is a fulcrum and how leverage is important when they hold their drumsticks.”
The band has a set of five songs they practice under the watchful eye of Johann Sebastian Bach’s portrait.
For student Garrett Fleming, the band has been a great way to expand his musical knowledge.
“I really like the songs we play and hanging out with my friends and my teacher,” Garrett said. “It’s really loud when we play, but I like it. I like the tempo and the way it sounds. My favorite song is ‘Putnam Go.’”
Student Adrian Saucedo plays the sole cymbal in his class, smiling from ear to ear every time he clangs the two golden discs together.
“I like playing the cymbal because I like the beats. Another kid was playing the cymbals, but when he was absent Mrs. Holbrook told me to play, and I did a good job,” Saucedo said. “I like being part of the bucket band.”
Holbrook also started a marimba band at the school and hopes to expand the music program at Putnam. She has been nominated for a 2018 Grammy Music Educator Award by a former student. If she wins, she will receive $10,000 for the school.
“It’s such an honor,” Holbrook said. “This is the third time a former student has nominated me for this award, and it’s just great to be appreciated for all the hard work you do.”
For now, Holbrook continues to impart her experience as both a teacher and a former UTEP band percussionist to her fourth graders. The bucket band’s next performance will take place during a school rally to celebrate the end of STAAR testing.
“They are so excited to play,” Holbrook said. “It’s just been a great experience and has had such a positive impact on their behavior. They are becoming more well-rounded students.”