Photo by Max Fox

Grupo Rompe Cajón is a youth group specializing in Afro-Peruvian music. Formed in 2018, the group's mission is to bring the rich folkloric traditions of Peru's coast to the DC community. It showcases a variety of genres, including Festejo, Landó, and Zamacueca, and brings to life songs about celebration as well as the struggle for Afro-Peruvian freedom before slavery and equality since. The members age 7 to 12, and play a variety of Peruvian percussion instruments, including the cajón (box drum), the cajita (small box), quijada de burro (donkey jawbone), conga, bongo, and cowbell.


Robin Ghertner is the musical director of Grupo Rompe Cajón. He has studied and performed percussion traditions from around the world. He currently studies Afro-Peruvian percussion with Afredo Valiente, one of the foremost cajoneros in Peru today. Visit for more info on Robin.

Besides playing music, Arjan Ghertner (11) likes to ski, play basketball, and hang out with friends. He likes playing drums because it allows him to express himself in a unique way, and of course, it's a lot of fun. When playing before audiences, Arjan likes to share with them something they may never have known existed and that is really cool.

Gabriel Ghertner (7) loves to be creative and use his imagination. He likes to perform solos on the cajón, showing off his different skills. Gabi says everyone should know that Peruvian music has a lot of different rhythms, and can open you up to new things to learn about.

Kai Gardella (11) likes to swim and ski. One of his favorite things about Peruvian music is the sound of the drums and the different rhythms. Kai wants the music he plays to make people feel happy and joyful.

Tommy Betts (12) is an accomplished capoerista. He likes to draw and play games. Tommy likes to be a part of the Peruvian cultural tradition and be connected to the long history of the music. He wants people to get inspired to achieve their best when they listen to his performances.

Osias Rodriguez (11) loves to play outside and read. Playing music makes him feel happy and relaxed. When people watch him play, Osias wants them to recognize that music is important, and can help you forget about problems and fill you with joy.