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Son Jarocho: Afroindigenous music and dance from the Gulf Coast of Mexico

Students would learn about the history and basic music, song, and dance of son jarocho, a tradition from the Gulf Coast of Mexico that has Southern Spanish, North and West African, and indigenous roots. 

Pennsylvania Curriculum Standards

(A=Assembly; W=Workshop; R=Residency)

9.1 Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts A, W, R

15.4 Learning Through Experience A, W, R

25.3 Pro-Social Relationships with Adults W, R

25.4 Pro-Social Relationships with Peers W, R

Art Form(s): Music, Dance

Instrument(s): Electric Bass, Guitar, Drums

Musicopia offers quality
“Little Ones” programming
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Assembly, Workshop, and Residency Offerings

Son Jarocho Assembly

The assembly would be didactic and participatory, where I would perform solo, accompanying myself on several different traditional instruments.  I would perform well-known sones from the son jarocho tradition - La Bamba, La Guacamaya, El Colás, El Torito Jarocho, among others, many of which have certain words in Spanish or basic dance movements that I would quickly teach students and encourage everyone to participate with.  In between the songs, I would cover basic history and explain the different instruments I bring, from the strummed guitar, the "jarana", to the violin, to the plucked melody instrument, the "requinto".  The assembly would conclude with a Q+A.  

Best for: K-12

Son Jarocho Workshop

A one-time workshop would cover the same bases as the residency, except we would only cover basic singing and dance.  By the end of the workshop, students would have a brief overview of history and be able to participate in one "son" by singing a traditional verse in Spanish and dancing.

Similar to the residency, a workshop could have a creative writing approach and be focused on lyric-writing either in English or Spanish, where we could collectively write one new verse, and conclude the workshop by singing it together. 

Best for: K-12

Son Jarocho Residency

​Students would learn the music, dance, and the historical context of son jarocho - a history that brings together multiple cultures, rhythms, and languages.  Son jarocho is a "música campesina", a music of the people who work the land, fishermen, and laborers.  It arose during the colonial period as indigenous and African communities, as well as those fleeing persecution from Spain, found ways to preserve and celebrate their cultures through music, under the oppressive eye of the Spanish Inquisition and the royal crown.  Through these exchanges, the "fandango" developed - a celebration where people come together to play string instruments, percussions, and the central drum, the "tarima" (which is played with the feet, through percussive dancing).  Over time, over 100 distinct "sones" developed, which are songs with a cyclical structure over which one can improvise.  

Through this residency, students would gain the tools to participate in the music and dance, as well as understanding the tradition's history.  I would accompany myself with a PowerPoint presentation to introduce visual elements, as well as my "jarana" and "requinto", which are string instruments specific to this tradition.  I would adapt the material to the grade and to the resources available, as well as time frame.  In terms of the dance, I specifically teach with a gender-neutral approach, where students all learn the same steps.

The longer the residency, the more we could delve deeper into history and learn more "sones".  Learning the dance and singing would require no extra materials from the school.  Learning the instruments would be more difficult logistically, but not impossible.   Although "jaranas" are difficult to acquire, the ukulele is similar enough that if the school already has some available, we could easily incorporate learning the strums and chords.  Hand percussion instruments could also be incorporated.  

A residency could also have a creative writing approach, and focus on lyric-writing in either English or Spanish, since creating new verses, or "versos", is central to the tradition.  Depending on the time limitation, we could either write a "verso" collectively, or each student could write their own "verso".  

Best for: K-12 


Featuring: Ximena Violante

Ximena Violante (pronouns: they/he) is a Mexican multi-instrumentalist and teacher creating spaces for people to celebrate their roots, re-imagine their futures, and expand their communities.  As a teaching artist, he has worked with NYC-based performing arts education group Mexico Beyond Mariachi to tour nationally with their Day of the Dead musical, as well as giving assemblies across the tri-state area.  In Philly and Boston, they've worked with families to write original bilingual lullabies for their children with Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project.  Independently, Ximena has led workshops and assemblies at the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, University of Texas San Antonio, Girls Rock Camp Alliance’s annual international conference, as well as grade schools and community gatherings.  

Joined Musicopia: 2021

About the Artist
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