Grade 6 Grooves to Andean Music

The Peruvian Andes are thousands of miles away and over 20,000 feet high, but York Prep’s Grade 6 World Geography classes were treated to the region’s lively indigenous and Spanish-influenced music without the formidable hike. The musical ensemble Inkarayku, featuring Naomi Sturm (daughter of York English teacher Paul Sturm), visited on May 9 and played panpipes, flutes, guitars large and small, and the “bomba” (a goatskin-covered drum) while our 6th graders clapped, sang, danced, and played goat-hoof shakers in time to the compelling rhythms of the Andes.

The workshop [more like “funfest”] included traditional dance steps, a follow-the-leader-type dance, and even a “Simon Says” number wherein the musician caller gave out moves and everyone responded in kind–e.g. “twirl!” “on one foot!” “everyone touch elbows!”

The presentation dovetailed beautifully with the unit on South American culture the classes had been studying. Afterward, students gave the experience many enthusiastic adjectives, such as “surprising,” “festive,” and “uplifting.” One student said: “I was expecting some joyful music; I never expected the group to actually bring the culture as if we were in the Andes itself!”

Better than that, it doesn’t get.