A few weeks ago during a long bus ride, when Ryan suggested to the students that we all learn the chorus to the song “Calma”---a song about relaxing on the beach, the collective groan was almost comical. Persistent as he is, Ryan asked me to find the lyrics to the song to send to our group chat. A midst the eye rolls and feigned interest, we rehearsed the song a couple of times slowly without music, and then practiced along with the catchy reggeton beat that can be heard reverberating from every colmado (corner store) and guagua (bus) in DR. The bus erupted into song.
No matter where you goes in the DR, music follows without fail. Music has become our loyal companion throughout our trip.
In fact, while we were swimming in the river in Monte Cristie (a place where you wouldn't expect to hear music), a family showed up with two gigantic sub-woofers on the back of a truck and introduced themselves over the mic before commencing their family reunion celebration. Thanks to them, our river trip ended with dancing merengue in our bathing suits.
We have connected on so many levels with the music in DR. No boat ride, bon fire, bus ride, or gathering is complete without it.
The love of music brings even the shyest student a little bit more out of their shell, and it gives our music and dance lovers the space and encouragement to express themselves freely.
It's a form of collective bonding that can be experienced passively or actively, yet is felt by everyone.
Music is also a tool for learning Spanish. Just the other day I heard one of our level 1 students recite, in perfect Spanish, a few stanzas of a song that he's been listening to on repeat. Music opens up new worlds.
With updated playlists at the ready, our Language and Culture students will be replaying musical memories for many years to come.