Today, we went to a music studio to learn about the instruments that make Puerto Rican salsa music so special. When we pulled up to the building, there were no signs, no people, just a plain blue, concrete building. It didn’t look like much, but we went inside anyway.

On the inside, we were escorted into a room that looked like a dance studio by two guys, Ricardo, who is the Director of Music and Javier, who is the Director of Dance at the studio. The room was well lit and very spacious. There was a wall of mirrors with a balance bar attached. The floors were a light-colored hardwood with a smooth, shiny finish. I figured this was a salsa studio once I saw the instruments in the corner. I sang in the show choir in school, so I never got to know the instruments. Everything looked like a drum to me, but I knew they each produced a different sound.

Ricardo showed us how to play each instrument. He started with the snare drum with a cow bell attached, called a timbale in Spanish. He played this little beat that I had to mimic. It went rat-tat-rat-tat-tat. He told me to keep playing that beat over and over again. He said I could do it on the cow bell or on the drum, but I had to keep the beat.

timbales-set

While I kept playing, he told Aunt Rita to get on the congas. I’d seen those before, but had no clue there was a method to playing them besides banging away. Ricardo told Rita to do a 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and count. Once she got the count, he told her to speed up. She went through the faster count and he told her to speed up again. He told her to speed up one more time, and by this time, she had caught up to my rhythm.

congas-set

Of course Andy and Janet knew how to play the güiro (it looked like a bee hive with a stick you rub against it) and the bombo (a large drum). Their dad is a music teacher who taught them a lot, so they naturally chimed in and found the rhythm. Ricardo kept the maracas (large rattles) I was so concerned about my beat that I didn’t realize Ricardo had paired up Patricia and Mack, Tess and Tim, and was teaching them some new salsa moves. Our music was awesome! I did really well for having never played an instrument in my life. Ricardo asked us if we wanted to switch off and dance, but we were having so much fun we didn’t want to switch.

maracas-set

guiro

Time really flew. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner and we were hungry. Ricardo and Javier complemented all of us on our natural talents. I asked him if we were ready for the “BIG TIME” and he said yes with a smile. I think we’re ready to record our first hit! You’ll see our CD in a music store near you. LOL !!!