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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Latine / Hispanic Heritage Month in the Music Room

Latine/ Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15- October 15 in the United States, and today I want to share some ideas for recognizing it in the music room, as well as some culture bearers to follow to learn more about Latine / Hispanic heritage and culture for yourself. Although this month should not be the only time we incorporate Latine / Hispanic culture and people into our classrooms, it's a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on an under-represented people group and celebrate the contributions of important artists and elements of Latine / Hispanic culture!

First a quick word about terminology: although it may be a bit more cumbersome I'm using both the terms Latine and Hispanic in this post. I've learned from listening to culture bearers that there are many historical, cultural, and linguistic factors that play into individual preferences for the terminology they use to refer to themselves, so I'm choosing to include both here. If you are from outside the culture I encourage you to listen to what individuals choose to use and mirror their language when you speak with / about them.

1. Artists to Feature

One way to celebrate Latine / Hispanic Heritage Month is to introduce students to some important Latine / Hispanic American musicians. Of course there are many more, but here are some examples to get you started, with a link to a song you could use in class:

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez

Tito Puente

Carlos Santana (note this is his version of a song by Tito Puente- I like to tie them together)


Jennifer Lopez

2. Books

There are so many wonderful books featuring Latine / Hispanic characters and heritage that are perfect tie-in's to music lessons! Here are a few of my favorites, with a link to a read-aloud or ebook for each:

From Across the Street

Rosa's Song

Drum Dream Girl

Dancing Hands


3. Puerto Rico

I've heard some differing opinions on whether Puerto Rico should be represented as part of Latine / Hispanic Heritage Month- there is in fact a separate Puerto Rican Heritage Month in November in New York. But from most Puerto Rican and other Latine / Hispanic people I've spoken to, it's my understanding that it's appropriate and important to include Puerto Rico in Latine / Hispanic Heritage Month recognitions. And regardless of when it happens, it's important for US American students to gain an understanding of Puerto Rico in particular. I still have a lot to learn myself, and I certainly can't cover everything that should be said in this brief mention here, but here is an article that gives an overview of Puerto Rican music, and here's a lesson plan for a Puerto Rican children's song with an accompanying game that's perfect for lower elementary:

4.  Culture Bearers to Follow

As with any post like this, I've just barely scratched the surface here for incorporating Latine / Hispanic Heritage Month in music class, but as someone outside Latine / Hispanic American culture my hope is to encourage you to find ways to incorporate it into your teaching, and to seek out culture bearers to learn more from, and compensate when you can, directly. Here are a few Latine / Hispanic music teachers I follow and am learning from myself, with links to their Instagram accounts:

Wanda Vasquez Garcia

Juliana Dueñas Lopez

Nora Hernández

Ani Silva-Berrios

Martin Urbach

Juan Carlos Tavarez

What are some other ways you recognize Latine / Hispanic Heritage Month in your music classes? I'd love to hear more ideas and resources in the comments below! 

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