Muskrat Ramble (fast)

arr. Paul Jennings

We've found that many great old rags and other jazz tunes from early in the 20th century are fun to play and arrange. High on our list of favorites is this big 1920s hit, often recorded and danced to. For us today, it makes a particularly cool setting for jazz band and bucket band. (We've provided the jazz band, you provide the bucket band!)

Bucket bands can be a lot of things, from all buckets, perhaps of different sizes, to a mix of classroom instruments. For this outing, we have given you a nice mix of instruments including one bucket part, ideal for classroom size groups. That includes groups that have fashioned small bucket drums from large coffee tins (about 22 oz.) or similar institutional food cans. (Be sure when decorating the cans to put duct tape over possible sharp edges.)

We also feature rhythm sticks, cowbell, small shaker, Noodle Blocks (or sand blocks), and a small triangle (or the unique Chime Plate included in the Noodle Kit). As a matter of fact, every part of the Noodle Kit can be used with this arrangement. (Visit for more information about Noodle Kits.)

Like the arrangement itself, the bucket band grouping is built on repetitive rhythms that change with each section of the piece. Look for these sections as it will help you teach the work to your students. Understand, though, that we encourage you to adapt this arrangement to work with your ensemble, whether it means adding an instrument, simplifying rhythms, or enhancing a special effect. You might, for instance, go to bars 21 and 29, and make beats 2 and 4 different solos on the second and fourth beat. Or maybe they're cowbell only. Experiment. See which works best with your group.

On the recording, you'll note that there are two tempos, one faster and one slower. These can be used however you need them, for example, slower for rehearsal and faster for performance. Or slower for performance and faster as a challenge/show-off piece. To help students hear how it works together (and just because it's pretty neat to hear), we have isolated the audio for the student percussion instruments and put both the fast and slow versions online. The student part PDFs are also available there.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.