Mariachi group plays their way into the hearts of students, community members

Friday, May 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

From a bolero romantic serenade with a soft touch, to huapango which uses a lot of falsetto, to son jalisiense which involves an aggressive style of vocalization, mariachi music fits many different settings and captures an audience hungry for rhythm and entertainment. Orchestra teacher John Lemons started a mariachi group this year after a meeting with the fine arts director where they discussed the interests of the students and community.

“The fine arts director, Pat Corbett, and I were getting to know each other and we were talking about orchestra,” Lemons said. “It was during that conversation when I brought mariachi up and he talked about his ideas from when he was in San Antonio. We put our strengths together in October, got help from mariachi directors and clinicians, and from that day of clinic in mariachi, we’ve been blowing and going.”

Many students heard about the mariachi band from friends who were already in orchestra and were interested in joining.

“It all started when some of my friends mentioned it last year during their free time,” sophomore Ricardo Franco said. “I was at the bus stop with my friends Paola and Alondra and they mentioned it to me. I asked if I could join, and they said anyone could, so I did.”

Though Ricardo is not in orchestra, he loves being able to be a part of the mariachi band because he’s loved that genre of music since he was a young boy.

“It feels great to be a part of the group. I grew up singing with mariachi music since I was little,” Ricardo said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Not only does Ricardo enjoy being a part of the band, but other band members who have done orchestra before enjoy playing a different style of music and think it’s a way that they can express themselves and their background.

“I feel like it emphasizes more of a cultural thing,” sophomore Paola Rios said. “I’m Mexican, so it comes from my roots.”

With a large Hispanic community in Bryan, the group has been well-received and requested for various events around town.

“I think the mariachi band should have been created years ago,” Lemons said. “It definitely has the culture of the school in it. Latino mariachi culture is here, not only in the school, but in the community itself. I’m encouraged to move forward with this group especially after what I’m experiencing now playing in the community with this mariachi band and I’m getting calls almost daily for them to play at parties or other functions.”

The first time the mariachi band ever performed in front of the school was at all of the lunches, and they loved performing in front of everyone showing them the new style of music.

“I was excited to play in front of everyone,” Ricardo said. “I was the one who wanted to do it. Once I got there I got really nervous, because that was the first time the school saw us.”

Not only did the members like performing, but many students enjoyed their performance and look forward to watching them play again.

“The mariachi band’s performance during lunch was great,” junior Samantha Hernandez said. “It really upped the vibe of lunch and overall was really good. It brought a lot of culture into the school by focusing on the traditions of Hispanic culture while bringing people together.”

The mariachi band went to state this year and performed well as a first year group.

“State went well and we scored a two,” Paola said. “We had close to a perfect performance, and we’ve only been playing for five months.”

Lemons has enjoyed directing the mariachi band and plans to continue doing so.

“I don’t think I could stop doing mariachi even if I wanted to,” Lemons said. Being a part of a group has its ups and downs, but the mariachi band has brought many of the students and community closer because of the cultural ties it has.”

The formation of the mariachi band has also helped bring its members together and form strong relationships.

“At first I only knew Alondra, Paola, and Carlos, but now I feel like we’re all a family.” Ricardo said. “We get on each other’s nerves, but that happens when you’re in a group. Once we get on stage, we forget about everything and just focus on the music.”

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