Going into their seventh year, the Webster Groves Community Music School continues to share the culture of others. Puerto Rico is the most recent country that brought forward a culture in Explore Music, an event put on at least twice a year.
“We want to explore the entire culture of the country that’s being featured, all the way from their food to their music to their dress,” Linda Lee, Explore Music committee board member, said.
Puerto Rican music originated with the Taíno people. Musical traditions of the Spanish and Africans can also be heard in Puerto Rico’s music. Puerto Rican culture consists of multiple kinds of music, going from classical to dance music.
The music school usually focuses on classical music, said Development Officer Ron Gibbs, but they would like the students to be exposed to more than that. The school hosted the event to bring together a setting of another country, bringing food, dance, music, and the arts.
Children made shakers and traditional kites as adults danced on the stage to salsa music. There was also food such as rice, pulled pork, a plantain mash, flan and even alcohol free pina colada that sold out by the end of the event.
The event is put together by a series of meetings with the Explore Music committee of five or six. They work closely with Community Music Schools director Carol Commerford who finds the representatives from the ethnic communities to come share their culture. This includes places like India, West Africa, Spain and Japan.
“We have so much to learn from different cultures. There are a lot of differences, but there are a lot of similarities.” Commerford said.
Commerford tries to find people who are authentic and make a difference in the community. The St. Louis Puerto Rican Society Scholarship took part in the event. They raised money for scholarships by selling food and providing music, as well as putting other events on throughout the year.
“We do these events to fundraise money for scholarships within the community,” The St Louis Puerto Rican Society said.
This helps children grow in a way normal society can let them. It brings people better skills for the future, Lee said.
“It simply helps so much in relations with other people if you understand their culture. You may not be as likely to be judgemental are far more willing to be accepting if you understand where their coming from” Lee said.