Teach Drumming in Every Classroom

I discovered bucket drumming several years ago and have taught several lessons before learning how to adapt bucket drumming lessons to desk drumming during the pandemic. Drumming can be adapted for the physical education class to have a fitness class that is engaging and will help your students move in a fun way, or you can even teach drumming in social studies, Spanish, or ELA classes. Lots of ideas below: 

Pictures of buckets, drumsticks, rubber erasers, scissors, gym ball, and student desk


(Not all of these are required. Use what you have!)

How To Get Started:

I begin by handing out drumsticks and/buckets to the students.  If you do not have buckets, desks will do just fine as drumming surfaces. If you are worried about extra loud noise, purchase rubber pencil grips and cut them in half. Place them over the tip of the drumstick to reduce the noise so it looks like this: 

snipped rubber erasers on end of drumstick

For virtual learners, I have them grab wooden spoons or pencils to use as drumsticks.

Show students how to properly hold the drumsticks and then show them Denise Gagne’s video on introduction to bucket drumming. Model first and then have students play along with you. Next, add music and work through each exercise on the Musicplay website. If you do not have Musicplay, I also recommend using Sammy Foster’s free website so that you can go through various exercises and learn drum routines to popular songs.

After students have had plenty of experience playing, I have them do a composition activity where they create their own compositions, and then play them for the class. Another extension of the lesson could be playing the composition with the background music in the exercises from the Musicplay website. 

Here is the worksheet that I use (click the link for access to the pdf):

Composing rhythms worksheet

I then ask questions about ways to make music without having instruments and see what my students can come up with. I try to generate a list of materials that can be used to make music and then show them the movie Stomp Out Loud so students can see everyday objects as musical materials.

Cross-Discipline Opportunities:


Dancing Drum book cover

During the month of November, you might use drumming as an opportunity to explore Native American Heritage in social sciences or ELA. This video teaches students both drumming patterns and pronunciation of Cherokee words set to a read-along about gratitude. Or, consider reading “Dancing Drum” by Cohlene before a drumming lesson.

Drum Dream Girl book coverDrumming can be helpful in Spanish class for language practice and dance breaks! There are two books that can aid with this: Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Tito Puente Mambo King by Monica Brown. There is a wonderful Youtube lesson on Drum Dream Girl where students can learn a Spanish phrase and drum along while the author reads the book.

The teacher does not have to have any instruments. I have literally had students drum on their desks! Alternately, anyone can buy this book and teach this lesson while students drum the phrase “Toca el tambor, chica de los sueños.” Tito Puente Mambo King also has a repetitive phrase in the story that students can drum along to, but what is great about this book is that it is in English and Spanish. You can read this in either language, pull out certain words and phrases, and then have students drum along with the story. As an added bonus, I have had students drum along with the video “Oye Como Va.” Again, if you do not have anything to drum with or rhythm sticks, simply use pencils or pens!


Drumming is a great way to hone musical skills while encouraging movement and creating engagement. Drumming is also a great way to get exercise! Join with your gym teacher and you can coordinate teaching a drum routine and then implementing it in the gym class. For example, you can teach the routine, and then the gym teacher can switch out desks for gym balls and have students drum and exercise at the same time!  The Youtube videos listed above all provide wonderful ideas for how to incorporate drumming and fitness. 

Hope these ideas help you to move more in the classroom!

1 Comment

  1. […] Try some dancing – we’ve got Covid safe suggestions for folk dances or, if you’re feeling crazy, DRUMMING. […]

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