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Come and enjoy our Caribbean Arts program to learn how to transform your venues into the paradise of a Caribbean Island using traditional instruments, music, rhythms, dances, Carnaval-style procession, all focusing on the traditional Bomba or Plena music from Puerto Rico.

Overview: Caribbean Arts is a program in which we engage teachers, children, youths, and parents in Caribbean traditions. We teach and ensemble group in the different forms of rhythms hailing from the Caribbean sea using the traditional instruments while incorporating other traditions, like dance, Crafts, costume showcasing, Visual arts  and poem reciting.

0ur providers will touch upon each subject briefly, as a quick overview of the Puerto Rican culture. We will start with a brief introduction to Puerto Rico culture as a whole, touching briefly on the subjects like Bomba or Plena, call and response songs, and costumes. We then move on to a slightly more in depth view on Plena music, with Panderetas and call and response songs and rhythms or with Bomba music with drum, Cua, maraca and call and response song.

Bomba is an African style of music and dance that flourished along the coastal region and sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico, where a lead singer chants short vocal calls to which the group sings fixed responses; sometimes described to be a challenge between the lead dancer and the lead drummer, where the lead drummer has to follow the movements of the dancer with a synchronized beat.
At least three drums are required for Bomba, though it can be done with just two: you must have a Requinto, the lead drum who follows the dancer, and two Buleadores, which keep a steady beat. Additional instruments include the Cua, a hollow wooden barrel which is struck with wooden sticks, and most commonly a Maraca. 

Plena is an urban topical song that first became popular with sugar workers around Ponce (South of Puerto Rico) in early 19th century. The most popular genre to evolve, the plena, blended African style drumming on frame drums on North Africa origin, call-and response singing, and topical themes similar to the Trinidadian Calypso.  The plena sometimes is called a "Sung newspaper" because it is used to spread news or gossip, to criticize, protests, censure and just for enjoyment. Plena contain verses of foul lines and choruses half as long. The original Plena are always accompanied by the single headed (Panderetas or Panderos, Frame drums, guiros and Marímbola.  The panderetas are of different sizes and sounds. The big one is 13 inches per circumference. The medium 10", and the small 8".


Plena - can be played solo, but best heard in a group. Three different hand drums make up the complex beat: the Punteador, which keeps the bass beat, the Seguidor, which add the main beat, and the Requinto, which is the lead drum and can improvise to the player’s liking. There can be any number of panderetas present at any time, but in the case of multiple Requintos, only one may assume lead while the others take the beats of Seguidores.



A Puerto Rican percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a wooden stick ("pua") along the notches to produce a ratchet-like sound.

Another Plena instrument is the Marimbola. Instrument that current as a harmonic bass and fell into disuse in 1950 when the electronic bass appeared.

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