First offered at William Wirt Middle School in Hyattsville, SHARP’s African drumming bucket band provides students with a foundation for improvisation and provides an immediate outlet for self-expression.
By Cara Fleck Plewinski
The University of Maryland School of Music’s SHARP program will extend its African drumming bucket band to Cherokee Lane Elementary and Paint Branch Elementary in College Park this spring. First introduced to William Wirt Middle School in Hyattsville during the fall of 2016, the bucket band teaches students the six interlocking rhythms of Ghanaian “Gahu” drumming with ordinary plastic buckets and sticks. SHARP’s expansion to the elementary schools was made possible by a new partnership with the UMD Office of Community Engagement and a donation of plastic buckets from UMD Facilities Management.
“Bucket bands are great outlets for young people, especially if they operate within a general framework like Gahu,” says Visiting Assistant Music Education Professor Tiger Robison, who directs the bucket band to William Wirt Middle School. The Gahu rhythms provide the band participants with a foundation for improvisation and rhythmic composition, as well as an immediate outlet for self-expression. Robison also finds that bucket bands foster chamber music skills, such as knowing when to lead, when to follow and how to respond to changes in music. “Students also gain an insight into music native to Ghana and learn the value of teamwork, self-discipline, and curiosity,” Robison notes.
Music education student Keegan Course, who assisted Robison at William Wirt, will teach the bucket bands at both elementary schools on a scholarship from the UMD School of Music Office of Community Engagement.
A joint collaboration of the UMD School of Music and ArtSi! Riverdale, the SHARP (Students Harnessing Academic Readiness through Performance) program supplements the music education curricula of underserved schools in Prince George’s County through masterclasses, performances and lessons provided by School of Music students and faculty. The SHARP program has received local and state recognition for its creativity and generosity to young disadvantaged minority students in the Washington, D. C. and Maryland region.
Learn more information about the School of Music’s community engagement initiatives here.