877-542-5504 877-542-5504

We Dance Merengue Lesson Plan

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0217
Submitted by: David Demnitz
Email: ddemnitz@workingfamilies.com
School/University/Affiliation: Greenburgh Eleven UFSD, Dobbs Ferry, NY
Date: October 10, 2003

Grade Level: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


  • Arts/Music

Duration: 45 minutes

Description: An example of Merengue which instrumental musicians can play and sing.

National Standards of Music Education published by the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) :

  • 1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  • 2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  • 9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

New York State Standards for the Arts :
Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts (Perform music written by others. They will understand and use the basic elements of music in their performances and compositions. Students will engage in individual and group musical and music-related tasks).

Standard 2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources (Students will use traditional instruments, electronic instruments, and a variety of nontraditional sound sources to create and perform music. They will use various resources to expand their knowledge of listening experiences, performance opportunities, and/or information about music.)

Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Dimensions and Contributions of the Arts (Develop a performing and listening repertoire of music of various genres, styles, and cultures that represent the peoples of the world and their manifestations in the United States. Students will recognize the cultural features of a variety of musical compositions and performances and understand the functions of music within the culture.) Objectives: Students will sing an example of Merengue music and will play instruments to accompany their singing.


  • musical instruments (they can be diatonic, containing just the white notes of the piano, ABCDEFG)
  • percussion instruments
  • We Sing Merengue Teaching Guide with Score
  • Teaching Guide with Score in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.


  • Merengue – A musical style and dance closely associated with the Dominican Republic.
  • Clave – A rhythm which Latin musicians rely upon to stay together and which propels much of the music of Latin America. Claves are two pieces of wood used to play the clave rhythm.
  • Dominican Republic – A country in the Caribbean which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
  • Montuno – A repeated musical idea played on keyboard.
  • Guiro – A scraper used in Latin music.
  • Procedure:
    Discuss the musical style with the students; it is closely associated with the Dominican Republic. Identify the signature characteristics of the style, especially the rhythms: the scraper and roll on the last beat of each measure (please see attached score). Define clave: the heartbeat of Afro-Latin music played on sticks (for more on clave, please see Me Gusta Salsa ). Sing the song for the students while playing the accompaniment (please see attached score). Discuss the lyric, and point out that the English lyric is a fairly strict translation of the Spanish lyric. Review keyboard organization with students. Have them identify middle C, then the G above. They’ll have to find the G to begin the melody, and then jump up to the leading tone, B above.

    Divide the class into two groups. Have them count in time 1, 2, 3, 4. Explain that the song is in common time. Have one group clap quarter notes, and have the other group clap the clave rhythm. Now get the first group to play the four 16th notes on their thighs on the last beat of each measure (please see attached score). Switch the groups’ tasks, so each group has an opportunity to play each rhythm.

    Assign instruments to students. Have them play the bass part. You play the piano part for now. Note that the cadence is just notes being left out. Play the first eight measures and then stop. Do the first eight measures until everybody can play together in time at a reasonable tempo. Now add the rhythm players (in the two groups the way you rehearsed it) and play the first eight measures until that’s solid. When it is, play it a few times through. If you have a drummer who can play the rhythm on drum set, add that now.

    Teach the students to sing the song, both the Spanish and English words. Add singing to the ensemble. Teach students to play the melody. The difficulties with this melody are beginning on the and of the third beat and the sixteenth note roll on the fourth beat. Understanding and finding the notes are as simple as can be. It should help that the students are by now quite familiar with the melody. Maybe leave out the roll on keyboard instruments, and let the mallet players play the roll. When the melody players are ready to hang in, add them to the mix.

    Assessment: Teacher observation of students’ participation and involvement in singing and playing.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * National Standards for Music Education – MENC

    * New York State Standards for the Arts