Lesson 2: Exploring “Vamanos pa’l Monte”

Aim: What rhythmic and melodic patterns can we hear played on instruments in “Vamanos pa’l Monte?”

Students learn to identify salsa instrumental patterns in “Vamanos pa’l Monte.”

Musical Explorers CD or online audio


cascara, guajeo, tumbao

Sing “Vamanos pa’l Monte”

  • Listen to “Vamanos pa’l Monte” Track 26, and clap along with the clave pattern, or on beats one and three.
  • Learn to sing the first coro, Track 27 and Track 28.

“Vamanos pa’l Monte” Translation (First Coro)

Vamanos pa’l monte
pa’l monte pa guarachar
Vamanos pa’l monte
el monte me gusta más

Let’s go to the countryside
to the countryside to party
Let’s go to the countryside
I like the countryside the most

  • Learn to sing the second coro, Track 29 and Track 30.

“Vamanos pa’l Monte” Translation (Second Coro)

Pa’l monte me voy
porque contento estoy

I’m going to the mountain
because I’m happy there

  • Listen to “Vamanos pa’l Monte” again, Track 26 and sing along with both coros while clapping along with the clave pattern, or on beats one and three.

“Vamanos pa’l Monte” is a salsa song written by Eddie Palmieri, an acclaimed Nuyorican (New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent) pianist from Longwood in the South Bronx. Written in New York City in the 1970s, the song is about leaving the problems of the city and going to the mountains to have a party. Eddie, along with many other famous salsa musicians, started learning music in elementary school in New York City. 

Explore Instrument Patterns in Salsa

    • Salsa music comes from a mix of musical influences. It’s also made up of a mix of melodic and rhythmic patterns played on each instrument, which gives it its unique sound.
  • Listen to the patterns of each instrument individually:
    • The piano plays the guajeo [wah-HEY-oh], Track 31.
    • The timbales play the cascara [kas-KAH-ruh], Track 32.
    • The bass plays the tumbao [toom-BOW], Track 33.
    • The claves play the clave, Track 25.
  • Use SG33 to match the pattern names in the word bank with the instrument names.

  • Listen to “Vamanos pa’l Monte” again, Track 26.

    Choose one of the patterns and clap along

Creative Extension:

Listen to the rhythmic patterns of the instruments again, Tracks 25 and 31-33. Match each pattern with a different phrase below, or create your own phrases for the different patterns.

  • “Bistec chuleta” (clave), Track 25
  • “I came to school without my lunch today” (guajeo), Track 31
  • “I’ve got rhy-thm like Ti-to Puen-te, yeah!” (cascara), Track 32
  • “Our school is cool” (tumbao), Track 33

Literacy Extension:

Author Monica Brown and illustrator Rafael López bring to life the stories of Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, two of America’s most famous salsa musicians. Learn about their life stories in these illustrated children’s books: My Name is Celia / Me Llamo Celia and Tito Puente, Mambo King / Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo.

Visit monicabrown.net/books for more information.

Celia Cruz was a singer who was born in Cuba but became known internationally as the “Queen of Salsa Music.” She was famous for shouting “¡Azúcar!” (Sugar!) during songs and in performance, celebrating her and other Cubans’ love of sugar (especially in coffee).

Tito Puente’s main instrument was a percussion instrument called the timbales. You can remember the cascara rhythm played on the timbales by repeating, “I’ve got rhy-thm like Ti-to Puen-te, yeah!”

Musical Word Wall

Add cascaraguajeo, and tumbao to the Musical Word Wall.


PDF Downloads

SG33 ↓ Download File


Musical Explorers Audio Tracks

Go to Unit 5: Klezmer Music with Dan