Countryside Carol

Grade Level
9-12, College and Adult

SelectionAguinaldo Jibaro (see also:
Recorded: Cayey, Puerto Rico, 1956.
Published: Songs & Dances of Puerto Rico. Folkways Records FP 8802, 1956.
Performers: Victor Rolon Santiago, leader, singer and bongo drum; Julio Berrios Mendoza, singer and claves and guiro player; Vincente Cotto Suarez, cuatro player; Jorge Figueroa, guitar ("tres ").


Activity 1 - Demonstrating the intricacies of Puerto Rican Music with “Aguinaldo Jibaro”: (9-12, C-U)

1. Play the recording (3x) asking students to listen, in order to respond to the following questions:

  • What instruments do you hear? (bongo, claves, guiro, cuatro, “tres”)
  • Who is singing? (one male singer predominately, with back-up singer later in the piece)
  • How many verses are sung/performed? (3 total verses – broken up by the “Le-la-lai –le lo la –lo le la lai” interludes)

2. Demonstrate (live or with individual example recordings) what the different instruments, used in this piece, are and why they are unique to Puerto Rican music?

3. Listen again to the recording, and review the instruments being performed and the overall use of each instrument in context with each other

  • What do we hear as the prominent instrument, besides the voice of the singer at different points in the music?
  • Is there a prominent instrument or are they all playing at once?
  • What is the difference and role between the instruments (rhythm energy, melodic energy, steady sound, etc…)

4. Again, listen to the recording – this time following along with the lyrics (found below/attached). In addition to this try to find the overall beat/tempo of the piece by patting your lap with your hand.

  • Utilize the English Translation to understand the words.

5. Sing the song softly (IN SPANISH) with the recording, attempting to match the inflection/style that the singer uses in his voice.

  • While singing still try to keep the beat/tempo of the piece, by patting your lap with your hand.

Activity 2 - Discovering the Uniqueness of Puerto Rican Music:

1. Discover what Aguinaldo Jibaro means:

  • Aguinaldo: is a folk genre of Christmas music in several Latin American countries, based on Spanish Christmas carols or villancicos which is traditionally sung on Christmas itself or during the holiday season.
  • Jibaro: is a self-subsistence farmer (countryside people who farm the land in a traditional way), and an iconic reflection of the Puerto Rican people

2. Analyze the lyrics and try to consider the meaning of this Aguinaldo (carol). First understand and appreciate the religious focus of the lyrics. Then discover the meaning of the Nativity star and how that is a prominent item in Christmas (directing others the birth of Christ).

3. Discover various online performances of Aguinaldo Jibaro and other aguinaldos. Demonstrate different recordings like “Aguinaldo Cumanes”,  “El Papagayo”, “Aguinaldo Margariteño”

  • While listening to the different aguinaldos – consider the structure, the instruments used, the inflection and meaning behind them.

4. Explore the use of this piece “Aguinaldo Jibaro on Christmas Day in Puerto Rico. Consider the opportunity to have the jibaro reflect and realize the importance of Christmas and acknowledging Christ’s birth. How we need direction in our lives.



  1. Repetition
    1. Text little to none
    2. Repeated interlude
  2. Melisma
    1. Little melisma
    2. No melisma
  3. Social Organization of the Vocal Group and Ensemble
    1. Solo Singer
    2. Large Complementary Orchestra
    3. Unison Leader Predominant
  4. Melodic Organization
    1. Arched
    2. Simple strophe with moderate variation
    3. Range – minor sixth to octave
    4. Final tone is the lowest note
  5. Rhythmic Organization
    1. Polyrhythm
    2. Simple meter
    3. Slight embillishments


Lesson Plan by Daniel Fischer