Whether you like to sit and strum a guitar with your friends, or praise God through music during Mass or march in the marching band; or play the latest pop, salsa or regaetton hit to your screaming teen fans, there is a place for you at COAR. The students at COAR’s school, 900 or more each year, are more diverse than you can imagine. The school has grown from educating the COAR residential (foster care) children into the parish school for Zaragoza and the surrounding cantones (villages). Whether the kids come from poor families who live in shacks with dirt floors and corrogated metal panels or from one of the newer gated communities, there is a great variety of musical talent to be nurtured.
As part of the normal school year, musicians are called upon to perform for the school. At any sporting event, the marching / pep band is there to support the COAR team. For social events, kids who can play more popular music are often entertaining the crowd. Each week, there are two Holy Masses for the students at COAR. One for the morning classes and one for the afternoon classes. COAR students both sing in the choir and play instruments to support the liturgy. The new Peace Band meets every day from 11am until 1245 and has more than 50 members.
For those interested, here is a brief tutorial on the music currently enjoyed in El Salvador. The most common music that young Salvadorans listen to is International English pop music. Depending upon the year, it could be Justin Bieber, One Direction, Bruno Mars or Katy Perry. Popular Latin pop music is also always common: Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, or Chino y Nacho. But, the latest trend is a new redux version of the Dominican Bachata. In the early 1980s, this music was frowned upon by the ruling classes for being rude, crude and vulgar. Today, the acoustic guitars have been replaced by electric guitars and the lyrics are probably raunchier than ever. COAR’s Child Protection Policies actually list Bachata as a genre of music that may be banned if the lyrics denigrate women or contain inappropriate language. So, of course, like all kids, if you “can’t listen to it”, the internos love it.
There are also a million different varieties of Latin Music: salsa, merengue, samba, tango, and mambo. Salsa (originating in Puerto Rico/New York) and the Merengue (originating in the Dominican Republic) are both still very popular forms of music. Both feature up-beat tempos and fun lyrics that make you want to move your hips. The tango (Argentina) and the mambo (Cuba) are older forms of music which are more likely to be heard in grandma’s room than at COAR. One of the newer and more hip styles of music is regueton which in layman’s terms feels like you picked up Jamaica and sat it squarely in Puerto Rico while a US Hip Hop Festival was going on. As always, music is the universal language that unites the young so it is no surprise that at a COAR birthday party you could hear: Taylor Swift, Psy (Gangnam style – Famous Korean pop song), then Daddy Yankee (Puerto Rican Reggaeton singer).