In the East Valley of Mesa, Arizona, Mexican culture is celebrated with Mariachi music in schools. But the experience is not limited to Mexican-American students. People of all cultures are enjoying learning to play and sing the songs.
The students strum guitars, sing passionate melodies, play tunes on trumpets and blend in violins and the guitarron, a bass instrument similar to a guitar. They receive instruction on the instruments, and also enjoy celebrating with the music.
Themes of Mariachi songs include love, loss, and patriotism. Classes and performances in Mesa, Tempe, and Changler are attracting students of all ages.
Learning to sing in Spanish, and play instruments are ways to learn language, musical skills, and learn more about the culture.
60 students make up the Mariachi Sones del Desierto, also known as the Desert Sounds Mariachi. Desert sounds helps get instruments for students in need in school orchestras and bands.
“It’s what I grew up listening to, mariachi and other Hispanic music,” said Fatima Oliveros, 17, of Mesa, a violinist. “My parents kept encouraging me to do it.
The program director is Chris Donlon, an orchestra teacher in Mesa Public Schools. “It’s a combination of opera music, folk music, classically trained musicians that come together,” Donlon said.