From the moment they paraded into the Center School gymnasium, the five internationally renowned members of the Latin American educational music group, Manguito, captivated the young audience with the rhythmic thundering of their drums and other implements of mass percussion.
The exuberant, but very attentive, audience savored a taste of Latin American culture on January 24 when Manguito took the students on a musical journey through the Caribbean – making virtual stops at the islands of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico – so they could sample the sounds and rhythms of instruments originating from each country.
Manguito delighted the kids with its interactive, multi-sensory approach to engaging the students and getting them excited about the music.
When it was time to listen, the students listened enthusiastically. When the group asked them to clap, they clapped their hands raucously. And when it was time to get up and dance, they got up and danced – wildly.
Little bodies flipped and flopped, beeped and bopped, from every direction while Manguito played songs that compelled every body in the room to move, including the teachers.
During a jam session with the band, some kids got to play instruments like the bongo and maracas. Kindergarten student Ethan Cabral played the conga drums with a smile so wide, even Principal Rose Bowman couldn’t help but notice.
“He was in his glory,” said Bowman, expressing how proud she was of him for his newly found self-confidence while performing in front of the crowd.
With the way the children so uninhibitedly danced and eagerly interacted with the group, it did not matter much whether or not they were aware of the magnitude of talent the five seasoned musicians performing before them possessed. What mattered most was that the students experienced it, and that they appreciated it.
The kids even exited the gym forming classroom conga lines of sorts, savoring every last second as Manguito continued playing while the students danced themselves back to their classrooms. Manguito also played a morning concert for the students of Old Hammondtown Elementary.
Manguito is a Boston-based educational musical group sponsored by Young Audiences of Massachusetts – Arts for Learning, an organization that provides live educational programming to students.
Manguito is comprised of Alex Alvear on bass and vocals, Pedro De Jesus on bongo, Angel Wagner on timbal and vocals, Jesus Andujar on the congas, and Matt Jenson on guitar.
By Jean Perry