Unit 3: Salsa with Gino

Melody now takes us on a journey from Bloomingdale, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina to meet our next singer, Gino. Use SG20, SG21, and SG22 to meet Gino and prepare your students to learn about salsa. 

Genre Overview

Salsa is the name given to Afro-Cuban dance music as it is played in the United States. The Spanish word salsa means “sauce” and was used in Cuba as an exclamation (“Salsa!”) when something exciting was played in music. Though the music originated in Cuba, the infusion of jazz harmony, arranging techniques, and improvisation, as well as the influence of the Puerto Rican community in America, came together to give salsa its distinct sabor (or “flavor”). Salsa rose to prominence in Cuban and Puerto Rican communities in the United States beginning in the 1950s, and today is still one of the most popular genres of Latin American music around the world. 

Meet Gino Castillo

My name is Gino, and I live in Charleston, South Carolina, where I make music with my band the Cuban Cowboys. Even though I grew up in the South American country of Ecuador, I play music that comes from Cuba—salsa! 

I lead my band from behind the congas—large drums that you will see for yourself at our concert this spring. Make sure you wear the right shoes—salsa is music for dancing! 

Lesson 1: Learning “El Manisero”

Students learn to clap a basic clave pattern and sing the chorus of “El Manisero.” 
Go to Lesson 1: Learning “El Manisero” →

Lesson 2: Exploring Vamanos pa’l Monte”

Students learn to identify salsa instrumental patterns in “Vamanos pa’l Monte.” 
Go to Lesson 2: Exploring “Vamanos pa’l Monte” →

Learn More!




  • Sesame Street has had guest appearances by salsa artists Tito Puente and Celia Cruz and even aired an episode where Elmo prepares for a salsa party by learning to salsa (Episode 3917).

Additional Teaching Resources:

  • Georgia Public Broadcasting: Teach Young Children Spanish with Salsa!
  • “Teaching with Freddie the Frog: Salsa Steps for Kids” and “The Salsa Kids Slide” are good introductory videos for kids to learn salsa dancing.
Unit 3: PDF Downloads

SG20 – Let’s Explore Salsa! ↓ Download File
SG21 – Meet Gino ↓ Download File
SG22 – We Asked Gino… ↓ Download File
SG23 – Learn the Clave Pattern↓ Download File
SG24 – Match the Salsa Pattern ↓ Download File

Unit 3: Audio Tracks

Track 10 – El Manisero

Track 11 El Manisero (Coro 1 Pronunciation)

Track 12 El Manisero (Coro 1)

Track 13 El Manisero (Coro 2 Pronunciation)

Track 14 El Manisero (Coro 2)

Track 15 Bistec Chuleta Clave Rhythm

Track 16 Clave Rhythm

Track 17 Vamanos pa’l Monte

Track 18 Vamanos pa’l Monte (Coro 1 Pronunciation)

Track 19 Vamanos pa’l Monte (Coro 1)

Track 20 Vamanos pa’l Monte (Coro 2 Pronunciation)

Track 21 Vamanos pa’l Monte (Coro 2)

Track 22 Guajeo (Piano)

Track 23 Cascara (Timbales)

Track 24 Tumbao (Bass)

Track 25 Clave (Claves)

Lesson 1: Learning “El Manisero” →