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Popular tiple construction workshops

In ancient times, tiples played a crucial role in the religious and secular life of the Puerto Rican jíbaros. Now, the small, fading tiple is reborn in the hands of ordinary folks during community workshop events in Puerto Rico and the United States.

Instrumentmaker/teacher William Cumpiano, co-founder of the Cuatro Project, demonstrates how to varnish a tiple made during a community workshop event
that took place under a 60-foot tent during the 2008 Chicago Puerto Rican Festival. The event was sponsored by the San Lucas United Church of Christ in the Puerto Rican neighborhood of the great city.                                                                                                                        Photo by Carlos Flores, PuertoRican Chicago


Humacao, Puerto Rico

2010: Agapito López Flores Second Unit Public School

Every student in a class of three girls and three boys in a novel instrument building class led by technology professor Carlos Rosado completed their own tiple instrument.

The class spanned three months, consisting of one hour a day, five days a week.

The Cuatro Project served as technical consultant during the development of the curriculum for the class and supplied the materials and fittings. Mr. Rosado has informed us that the class will be repeated during upcoming years and he has received affirmative responses to his request to expand the curriculum to similar schools in adjoining towns and cities.

Carlos Rosado, technology professor of the Humacao  public shcool system              Photo by Manuel Frau

Students at the Agapito López Flores School determin the neck angle of their tiple.
(All photographs in this section, courtesy Carlos Rosado)

With professor Carlos Rosado's assistance, the student connects the neck to the tiple's soundbox

Students proudly display the fruits of their labors at course's end.


Holyoke, Massachusetts

2007:  YouthBuild Holyoke

In YouthBuild programs, young people of low and moderate income between the ages of 16 and 24 years work full time for six to 24 weeks towards their GED or high school diploma, and at the same time they acquire employment skills in the construction trades building low-income housing. The emphasis is on leadership skills and the creation of small communities of youths and grownups committed to their success.

In 2007 YouthBuild Holyoke facilitated their carpentry workshops to the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project to teach introductory instrument-making to 7 girls and boys aged 17 to 19. With the supervision of carpintry teacher John Rolinson, the instrument maker and Cuatro Project co-founder William Cumpiano volunteered his time to direct the teaching session. Most of the youths in the class were either dropouts or at risk. Unfortunately the workshop could not be repeated due to the cancellation of its funding. 


Jomaira Ruiz strokes the tiple's headplate against a sanding board to remove bandsaw marks.

Rey-Dee Santana saws a small slot for a string with a fine backsaw during the closing days of the Holyoke Youthbuild tiple workshop.

Miguel Vega goes out into the bright light for a better look as he fine-sands his tiple.

Miguel Vega saws out the tiple's outline as carpentry instructor John Rolinson watches closely.

Chicago, Illinois

Tiple workshops sponsored by Chicago's San Lucas United Church of Christ. 

The San Lucas United Church of Christ in Chicago was founded in 1976 by 30 Christ-conscious men and women that were born and raised en the Puerto Rican community of Humboldt Park. They were searching for remedies for the harm caused by poverty and deprivation that faced their community. Since then they have maintained a series of support program that includes a great kitchen and dining hall open to all, including the homeless.

Guided by the conviction that cultural development is a crucial factor in personal healing and well-being—as well as its ability to install a sense of self-awareness and coherence within a community, the San Lucas partnered with the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project in 2006 to begin an ongoing, annual series of tiple-making workshops at a minimal cost to all the citizens of their region, regardless of age or back-ground. The workshop has been held every June and as ongoing community support allows, intends to offer the workshops every year into the future.














































































Primera parte

Segunda parte

Tercera parte




2006 San Lucas Church 
Tiple Workshop

With the exceptions noted. all the photographs of this section are by Carlos Flores,
Puerto Rican Chicago

The first Chicago San Lucas Church tiple workshop took place within one of the craft-activity rooms of the church.

The wokshops consisted of 5 adults and one child, the latter being the son of one of the participants.

One of the students of the 2006 workshop rounds the corner of his tiple's soundbox with a sanding stick.

2007 San Lucas Church
Tiple Workshop 


En 2007 el taller se mudó al gran Parque Humboldt-ubicada en los alrededores de la comunidad puertorriqueña en Chicago--dentro de una gran carpa de 60 pies de largo.

La carpa abría al gran anual Festival Puertorriqueño, y durante cuatro días durante el día y noche todos los visitantes al festival podían observar a los estudiantes mientras construían sus tiples.

El maestro Cumpiano explica a la clase el juego de materiales--consistiendo de bloques de madera y accesorios--que se le repartía a cada uno de los estudiantes al comienzo del taller

Uno de los asistentes era un jóven retado por el autismo, que concluyó el curso exitosamente con su propio tiple.

El maestro Cumpiano ayuda a un estudiante a adherir la tapa a su tiple, un proceso complejo requiriendo la atención de dos personas.

Taller de tiples de la Iglesia San Lucas,
Chicago 2008

Taller de tiples de la Iglesia San Lucas,
Chicago 2011