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Bucket Band Basics

Bucket Band Basics: a method book for teaching artists with step-by-step instructions and beginning repertoire
This is my latest edition, published in 2017, that El Sistema Teaching Artists all over the world are using to help young musicians develop strong inner pulse, understand rhythmic structure and embrace joyful ensemble skills using five gallon buckets.

Keep Up! (Light City)

Here is a performance of my composition entitled "Keep Up!" at Light City, 2018. Performing is the Booker T Washington Brass Band and the Performance Bucket Band from the BSO OrchKids Program. This is the result of 10 years of work developing the bucket band format to a virtuosic level. Light City was a major performance victory for us last year.

To A Stranger

This is an excerpt from a composition I wrote for flute, cello, percussion and narrator entitled "To A Stranger". This is part of a cycle of pieces I have written that are settings of the poetry of Walt Whitman from his iconic collection "Leaves of Grass"

It Is Happiness

This is the final section of my latest composition entitled "It Is Happiness" scored for french horn, violin, cello, percussion and narrator. It is the final piece in a set of eight pieces that are settings of poetry from Walt Whitman's collection "Leaves of Grass". I’ll be presenting all of these pieces in concert this spring in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth.

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About Brian

Howard County

Brian Prechtl's picture
Brian Prechtl has been a member of the percussion section of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2003 and the Grand Teton Music festival since 1992. He was honored by the League of American Orchestras in 2016 with a Ford Musician Award for Excellence in Community Service for his work as a Teaching Artist in OrchKids, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s outreach program for under-served youth.  His innovative use of bucket drumming uniquely creates a sense of community while introducing strong... more

Leaves of Grass

Over the last 10 years, I have composed a set of 8 pieces that are settings of the poetry of Walt Whitman from "Leaves of Grass". I will be presenting two concerts to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the poet this spring. Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819. One of these birthday celebrations will be here in Baltimore at An Die Musik and another will be at the University of Denver. All of the pieces are for percussion, along with other instruments and narrator.

When a listener experiences a piece of absolute music, he or she may invent a meaning or program for the music that they are hearing. Likewise when reading a poet's words one might imagine or impose an environment for the contents of the poetry. I have found that mating music with the spoken word allows audiences and performers to take a shared journey. This has proven to be an incredibly powerful experience in the performances I have been a part of.

  • It Is Happiness

    This is the final section of my latest composition entitled "It Is Happiness" scored for french horn, violin, cello, percussion and narrator. It is the final piece in a set of eight pieces that are settings of poetry from Walt Whitman's collection "Leaves of Grass". I’ll be presenting all of these pieces in concert this spring in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth.
  • To A Stranger

    This is an excerpt from a composition I wrote for flute, cello, percussion and narrator entitled "To A Stranger". This is part of a cycle of pieces I have written that are settings of the poetry of Walt Whitman from his iconic collection "Leaves of Grass"
  • I Believe in You My Soul

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's poem from "Leaves of Grass" for trumpet solo, 7 percussion, bass and narrator. Here is an audio file with subtitles displayed to coordinate with the poetry narration.
  • I Sing The Body Electric - Brian Prechtl

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's iconic poem from "Leaves of Grass" for violin, cello, flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, piano, percussion and narrator. This is an audio file.
  • It Is Happiness

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's poem for french horn, violin, cello, percussion and narrator. Here is an audio file with subtitles displayed to coordinate with the poetry narration.
  • To A Stranger

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's beautiful love poem for flute, cello, percussion and narrator. Here is an audio file with subtitles displayed to coordinate with the poetry narration.
  • Grand is the Seen

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's epic poem for percussion trio and narrator. This is an audio file.
  • On The Beach At Night Alone - Brian Prechtl

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's poem for violin, clarinet/bass clarinet, harp, percussion and narrator. This is an audio file.
  • ...lucky to be born?

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's inspired poem from Leaves of Grass for trumpet, percussion and narrator. Here is an audio file with subtitles displayed to coordinate with the poetry narration.
  • A Child Said, What is the Grass?

    This is a setting of Walt Whitman's beautiful poem from Leaves of Grass for violin, cello, piano and narrator. Here is an audio file with subtitles displayed to coordinate with the poetry narration.

Bucket Band Project

I pioneered the idea of teaching children on 5 gallon buckets more than 25 years ago at the Old Fort YMCA in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When the BSO started their outreach program, OrchKids 10 years ago we included a "Bucket Band" and I have been developing the program over the past decade. I continue to be the primary musician in this outreach effort from the BSO. In addition to leading the bucket band, my role has evolved to include musical advisor and conductor.

OrchKids is based on a music education program born in Venezuela that utilizes music as an agent for social change called the El-Sistema program. The BSO's OrchKids program is one of the leading El Sistema programs in the United States, providing seven or more hours of instruction per week, as well as free use of an instrument. El Sistema programs around the country took note of what we were accomplishing here at OrchKids and began "bucket bands" of their own. I decided the time had come for me to codify the approach I had developed here for others to use in this work.

Bucket Band Basics outlines methods that develop strong inner pulse, understanding of rhythmic relationships and note values, ear training theory and the importance of listening and playing together with others in a fun interactive volume.

  • "One Baltimore" LAO Convention

    Here is a performance of a piece I wrote following the unrest in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray for Orchestra and Bucket Band. This was a performance for the opening of the League of American Orchestras Conference. It features an orchestration I did of this piece for full orchestra and bucket band.
  • Wings of Apollo.mov

    Here I am conducting the OrchKids Wind Ensemble on the Winter Wonderland Performance on December 12, 2018.
  • Revolution

    This is a performance of a piece I wrote called "Revolution". Members of the OrchKids Performance Bucket Band that I have built over the last 10 years are performing here. This particular performance was part of a demonstration at a Congressional Office Building for an Summit on the Arts in 2016
  • One Baltimore (Light City)

    Here is a performance of my composition "One Baltimore" from Light City, 2018. Performing are the Booker T Washington Brass Band and the Performance Bucket Band from the OrchKids program.
  • w:Mayor Pugh.mp4

    Mayor Catherine Pugh joined the OrchKids Performance Bucket Band and the Booker T Washington Brass band last year at our 10 year Anniversary Concert. Here is a short video from that pop-up concert.
  • Keep Up! (Light City)

    Here is a performance of my composition entitled "Keep Up!" at Light City, 2018. Performing is the Booker T Washington Brass Band and the Performance Bucket Band from the BSO OrchKids Program. This is the result of 10 years of work developing the bucket band format to a virtuosic level. Light City was a major performance victory for us last year.
  • Bucket Band Basics

    Bucket Band Basics: a method book for teaching artists with step-by-step instructions and beginning repertoire
    This is my latest edition, published in 2017, that El Sistema Teaching Artists all over the world are using to help young musicians develop strong inner pulse, understand rhythmic structure and embrace joyful ensemble skills using five gallon buckets.
  • Bucket Band Don't Take No Jive - PPPCS

    This is one of the most fun and challenging tunes from "Bucket Band Basics" This is a performance from a Public Charter School group in East Baltimore called Patterson Park Public Charter School. I have taught bucket band all over the city of Baltimore.
  • That is Rufus, My Dog!

    This is the first piece I teach "Bucket Band" students. In this impromptu session we included a couple of guests who were experiencing Bucket Band for the first time. Famed Broadway Artist Brian Stokes Mitchell is in our circle here.
  • Bucket Band Basics

    This is a pdf "Bucket Band Basics" published in 2017

    PDF icon Bucket Band Basics

Professional Percussionist

I feel incredibly fortunate to make my living as a professional percussionist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Grand Teton Music Festival. In addition to the brilliant breadth of colors and the rhythmic excitment inherent in the percussion family, I get to work with an amazing group of colleagues every day in an ever changing landscape of applications. The musical examples in this section range from soloing in my percussion combo to playing the xylophone in the orchestra and swinging a giant "Hammer " of fate in Mahler's 6th Symphony.

  • Tico Tico (complete)

    Here is an arrangement I did of Tico Tico, a Brazilian Choro Song for Marimba Solo with vibe, conga and bass.
  • Comedian's Galop

    In this Video, I play the Xylophone solo from Khachaturian's Comedian's Galop with the Baltimore Symphony in an education concert.
  • Hammer Blow PR

    Here's a short clip of me demonstrating the hammer and box we built for the "Hammer Blow" of fate from Mahler's 6th Symphony.
  • Hammer Blow in Orchestra

    Here I am playing the "Hammer Blow" in a BSO rehearsal.
  • Porgy and Bess

    This is the most famous xylophone excerpt in the percussion repertoire - the opening from Gershwin's famous Opera, Porgy and Bess.
  • Tico, Tico (w/banjo)

    Here's an arrangement of "Tico, Tico" for marimba and ukulele.