In the summer of 2005, selected members of the Speaking in Rhythms Percussion Ensemble traveled to Puerto Rico. The purpose of the trip was to study an Afro-Puerto Rican style of music and dance called Bomba. Students spent a week learning about the music and dance within various learning environments. Some settings were very academic in nature, while others were community settings of activities that local Puerto Ricans engage in. Because the music and dance are not isolated entities within the context of culture, students learned various other interconnecting aspects of the culture, such as environment, social activities, education, economics and etc.
Bomba is an Afro-Puerto Rican style of music and dance. It was born out of an experience in which enslaved Africans were transported to Puerto Rico. This form of music and dance is African in essence in terms of the musical form, instrumentation, and the way the dancers interact with the drummers. However, because of the experience, influences of other cultures, specifically the Spaniards and indigenous people of the island, were incorporated into the style.
Del Africa Al Caribe is a workshop created by Raul Berrios. He designed the workshop to teach children about various styles of music throughout the Caribbean that came out of the Indigenous and African experiences. The workshop was presented to the Speaking in Rhythms Percussion Ensemble at the Museo Taller Africano. Established in 1990 by Raul Berrios and Tato Conrad, the museum is part of a movement that is dedicated to the education of the African roots of Caribbean cultures. The museum houses over 600 musical artifacts of African-rooted cultures throughout the Caribbean, as well as cultures throughout Africa and the African Diaspora. Museo Taller Africano also houses a library with over 300 books and a video center with over 300 videos.
Students of the Speaking in Rhythms Percussion Ensemble had the wonderful opportunity to experience a musical journey that took them from the music of the Tianos, an indigenous culture from pre-colonial Puerto Rico, to places in the Caribbean such as Trinidad, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba,as well as Brazil in South America, and back to the island of Puerto Rico to learn folkloric musical styles. Professor Berrios gave a brief description of the history and the musical characteristics of each style of music. Students were invited to learn how to play each style using instruments exhibited in the museum. This enrichment program led students to a profound cultural understanding and appreciation of the experiences throughout the Caribbean.