U-46 students learn from national champion mariachi band
Middle and high school students in Elgin Area School District U-46's mariachi band spent Monday learning from members of a nationally recognized mariachi group.
Later, Mariachi Joya Dorada de U-46 and Mariachi Sol Azteca, comprising students from the Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy in Grand Prairie, Texas, jointly performed a free community concert at Streamwood High School.
The Texas band, led by Marta Ocampo, won first place in the 2019 Jose Hernandez' Mariachi Nationals this summer. It is touring the Midwest this fall to share its members' knowledge and experience with younger and developing mariachi programs.
During Monday's workshop, U-46 students worked on performance techniques, practiced new music and showmanship, and talked about the benefits and challenges of life as a musician with the visiting band.
U-46's mariachi program started in 2009 with guitar instruction offered to about 15 students at one school. Since then, it has expanded to about 125 students at eight schools: Abbott, Canton, Ellis, Kimball, Larsen and Tefft middle schools, and Elgin and Streamwood high schools. Students learn to play a variety of instruments, including guitar, guitarron, vihuela, violin and trumpet, and to use their voices. They practice at their home schools under teaching teams and come together in various ensembles for about 30 performances each school year.
"I am extremely proud of how far our extracurricular mariachi program has come since 2009," U-46 Fine Arts Coordinator Jaimie Giraldo said. "This group represents the beautiful culture and heritage of many of our students, and we're excited to share this traditional art form with our community."