Celebrating Culture With the Mexican Guiro


This past weekend, Tucson held its annual “All Souls Procession,” a non-motorized inclusive public ceremony inspired by Mexico’s  Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday.  The procession was started in 1990 by Tucson artist, Susan Johnson, who was searching out a creative way to grieve for the loss of her father.  It has grown to beyond a crowd of 35,000 people in attendance, and it is one of Tucson’s most cultural and authentic events of the year.  I have never attended the “All Souls Procession,” but it is such a unique tradition that I am inspired by the creativity and cultural elements of it.  (To read more about the “All Souls Procession, click HERE.)  Therefore, I feel it is the perfect week to enjoy a Top 10 Tuesday musical activity based around the Mexican guiro.

The Mexican culture is rich with history and celebration, and the music certainly shares the upbeat feeling of the country, as well.  Wikipedia describes the guiro:

The güiro is commonly used in Latin-American music, and plays a key role in the typical rhythm section of important genres like cumbia and salsa. Playing the güiro usually requires both long and short sounds, made by scraping up and down in long or short strokes.  The güiro, like the maracas, is often played by a singer.

The following musical activity is intended to embrace Mexican culture by teaching children how a guiro is appropriately played.  The activity is best suited for children in Kindergarten – 3rd grade.

In order to complete the activity, you will need:

(1) A Mexican guiro….I purchased mine in Nogales, Mexico from a vendor on the street.  They can also be purchased in many Mexican specialty shops or conveniently through Amazon.com.  Click HERE to go to the Amazon link.  This is what a Mexican guiro looks like:

The Guiro Activity

As Wikipedia stated, guiros are played with long and short strokes.  Show your child how to play long strokes and short strokes by scraping the guiro stick along the grooves, and ask them to come up with a long and short stroke pattern.  Here are a few to try out or you can make up your own:

–Long, Long, Short
Long Long Short

–Short, Long, Short, Long
Short, Long, Short, Long

–Short, Short, Short, Long
Short, Short, Short, Long

The guiro is the perfect way to introduce quarter notes and half notes.  A quarter note:     receives one beat.  It is the perfect way to express when a guiro gets a short stroke.

A half note:

receives two beats.  It is the perfect way to express when a guiro gets a long stroke.

This time, write out a pattern  of half notes and quarter notes for your child to play on the guiro.  When they see the quarter note, they will give the guiro a short stroke, and when they see the half notes, they will give the guiro a long stroke.

This is beginning music reading and notation.  It is an important first step to learning how to play any instrument.  Spend a lot of time on reading these music notes and understanding their values, because it is the basic beginning to all musical understanding.

Now, we can apply what they have learned.  Put on some fun Latin music and encourage your child to play along with the guiro.  Let’s see if they can keep up with the beat and rhythm of the song and identify the guiro in the music.  Click HERE to go to Youtube to hear a Latin song that utilizes the guiro.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Top 10 musical activity and have had fun embracing the Mexican culture.  Please don’t forget to check back every Tuesday for another great musical activity.  To learn more about Top 10 Tuesdays and read the complete list of Top 10 musical instruments under $40 that promote music education in the home, click HERE.  Together, we will help your child get the music education they deserve.  Until next Tuesday, play on!


One response »

  1. Pingback: Water Bottle Guiro | Tucson Songstress

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