Cool Beats at ASO’s New Program

By: Heather Honaker

“Next week, we will learn to play along with a new song,” Ms. Mariana Aun tells the 6 through 11 year-olds of the Arkansas Symphony’s new bucket band. Today’s lesson is coming to an end and the students are recapping what they learned.

“Will it have a cool beat like this the one we learned today?” asks Byron, bouncing with excitement, drum sticks in hand while holding the bright orange Home Depot bucket between his knees with his feet.

“Yes! It will be just as fun as the William Tell Overture we learned today,” Ms. Aun smiles and tells the class.

With only two lessons under their belts, the students enrolled in the Pulaski County Youth Services Life Skills for Youth summer program at Temple Baptist Church are already hooked on playing in the ensemble every Tuesday. In the multi-purpose room behind the gymnasium, 15 kids drummed to the beat of “fish,” “sweet potato,” and “apple.” Just as your teacher in elementary school clapped the syllables of words, Ms. Aun taps these words on her bucket while all of the children play along and learn to keep the same time.

“Will you be back tomorrow?” one child eagerly asks.

“I will be back next Tuesday,” Ms. Aun answers and the classroom gives its approval with loud cheers.

For the students, being a part of the bucket band means they can be as loud as they want while playing with their friends. There is an interest in percussion among this age group and this new program helps teach students the fundamentals of music and rhythm, discipline, musical expression, and even role playing, as the most engaged child in class each week earns the opportunity to conduct the ensemble. This band is an ensemble because the children each learn and play specific parts.

It means one more opportunity for the ASO to connect, enrich, inspire, and advance the state of Arkansas through music. ASO can meet the needs of Little Rock children in new and different ways beyond the typical strings instrument programs. There are multiple sized buckets, instruments, and difficulty levels to be incorporated into the curriculum in each class with the eventual goal of performing on Robinson Center stage with the ASO. Plans are for the program to one day be expanded to Junior High students after funding for more teachers is secured.

So far, there are about 90 students in two class sites each week that participate in the bucket band program. In addition to the Temple Baptist site, classes are also taught for the Little Scholars of the Audubon Society site, which is also part of the Pulaski County Youth Services program. ASO hopes to grow the number of students to 150 in the fall of 2017 by including more after school programs.

Here is a quick conversation with Byron about his thoughts on class:

Cool Beats at ASO's New Program