Cumbia, Columbia, Claves and Congas


Happy Top 10 Tuesday, everyone!  It’s time for another fun-filled music activity.  For those of you who read my blog, you know that I am such a huge music fan first and foremost.  I am constantly reading about what’s going on with my favorite musical artists, and yesterday, I saw the sweetest post on Facebook from Calexico, a Tucson-based Indie rock band.  The band wrote:  “While playing Cactus Festival and North Sea Jazz Festival this past weekend, Calexico got to meet and hang out with Bonnie Raitt, Hutch Hutchinson and band. “We should record a cumbia together” she said after watching Calexico play.”  They posted this awesome photo, too!

From the Calexico Facebook page.

From the Calexico Facebook page.

As always, I seek inspiration from my musical mentors, so I thought this would be a great day to talk about Cumbia music from Columbia.  Thank you, Bonnie Raitt, for the great suggestion!

First…here is Wikipedia’s definition of “Cumbia:”

Cumbia is a music genre popular throughout Hispanic America. The Cumbia originated in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region, from the musical and cultural fusion of Native Colombians, slaves brought from Africa, and the Spanish during colonial times in the old country of Pocabuy, which is located in Colombia’s Momposina Depression.

Cumbia began as a courtship dance practiced among the African population, which was later mixed with European instruments and musical characteristics. Cumbia is very popular in the Andean region and the Southern Cone, and is for example more popular than the salsa in many parts of these regions.

Here are a couple of really great examples of Cumbia songs for you to listen with your child:

1.  “La Canoa Rancha” by Grupo Niche:

2.  “Cumbia de Los Muertos” by Ozomatli:

3.  “La Negra Tomasa” by Sonora Majestad:

All 3 songs make you get up and dance, and that is what today’s activity is all about.

The Activity

Play Cumbia music for your child and tell them about its Columbian roots.  Show them a couple of musical instruments that are used in Cumbia music.



African conga drums:


Play them examples of what these instruments sound like on Youtube:

1. Clave instruction on Youtube:

2. How to play the Congas on Youtube:

If you do not have claves or a Conga lying around, we can substitute a couple of our Top 10 Tuesday musical instruments to play along to the Cumbia music.

Substitute rhythm sticks for the claves:


(Available for purchase through Click HERE)

Substitute a hand drum for a Conga drum:


(Available for purchase through  Click HERE)

Cumbia music is dance music, so the point of this activity is to play instruments along to the music while dancing.  Both playing the instruments in time to the music and moving your body at the same time will emphasize beat and rhythm.  Not only will you provide your child with the opportunity to hear the beat, but by dancing, they will also feel the beat all while learning about music from another culture.  Enjoy your dance and music party and have fun!!!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s Top 10 Tuesday music activity.  Please don’t forget to check back every Tuesday for another musical activity for your to do at home with your child.  For a complete list of the Top 10 Tuesday musical instruments under $40 that will help music education int he home, click HERE.  For an archive of all of the previous Top 10 Tuesday music activities, click HERE.  Until next Tuesday, play on!


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