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Why Students and School Administrators are Embracing Mariachi

August 23rd, 2022 | 3 min read

By Ewan Moore

One of the driving beliefs behind pInstruments is that music should be accessible and for everyone. It’s an idea that longtime music educator Ramón Rivera shares in his quest to bring Mariachi to as many people as possible. While Mariachi used to be passed down by family, it’s been playing a substantial role in schools around the country - something Ramón himself is proud to have a hand in.

 “I was part of the Rivera family, and my mom and dad would teach me. In the U.S. public education system, music education has provided the basics of music through qualified music teachers.  Anybody can learn Mariachi music, and anyone can teach it. So that's why it exploded," he explains. "It used to be a family trade that was passed down, but now anybody could learn it because qualified music teachers have been teaching all students how to read and understand music. Now we can all learn how to play."

 One thing Ramón is particularly keen to stress is that Mariachi really is for everyone. “Anybody could play it”, he says with an emphatic smile. 

Mariachi Is For Everyone

 “You don't have to be Latino to play Mariachi music or to teach it. We have many non-Latino students. You don't have to speak Spanish. We only sing in Spanish, but everything is taught in English. Music is this universal language that everyone can access. I get really excited that American public schools are embracing this - it's one of the fastest-growing programs in the country right now!"

He continues: “Mariachi is a style of music. Just like the jazz band, you’re teaching a style. In Mariachi, a G is still a G and an F is still an F! It’s still the same notations as any teaching band or choir. We’re very fortunate now that major publishing companies provide sheet music with scores and recordings. You can teach Mariachi at your school and it will reach an untapped market to expand your music program. If you can read a score and have a love for mariachi music you should definitely add this program to your school.” mariachi being taught in school

 Ramón has been teaching music and Mariachi in schools for 25 years now, helping hundreds upon hundreds of students learn to discover the joy of playing and performing music. 

 “There's no greater gift to give our future generation than music,” he says. “It would be very, very sad to hear the world without music. I think it's my job as an educator to teach art, culture, and music.

"I have just been honored to do workshops for trumpet and write blogs. And I have a whole Mariachi series that we can add to your curriculum today. My goal is to write more music and produce more lessons so that Hispanic Heritage Month can be celebrated.”

Why Students And Schools Are Embracing Mariachi  

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With Mariachi music taking budding musicians across the country by storm, we have to ask Ramón: why are students choosing this particular style of music? And what does he think schools are getting out of embracing the art?

 “A lot of schools have a large and growing Latino population, and school administrators find it hard to reach out to that population because a lot of the families may not participate in school activities,” he explains. “So modern school leaders love to have a Mariachi program because the families will come in to participate. This music is for everybody. So now, families come to those parent meetings, to group meetings, to parent conferences. It's also about connecting to the culture.

 “To reach families as families is a big thing in the Latino family. It's all about family. I really think that schools are trying to connect to that and recognize it. And now it's blowing up. Las Vegas school district is one of the biggest with like 36 mariachi directors. I mean, it's huge and they don't have enough. Even to me in the Pacific Northwest, I have 200 students in the Mariachi program. So there's a need.

“Just like any program you teach to your demographics, right? If your demographics are Latino and you want to reach the families, then let's have a Mariachi program. Let's see how we could be part of their family because it's all about relationships. If there are no relationships, there's no learning. And I think the more that we can connect and understand people's culture, we will be in a better place in the world.”

 There’s also the inescapable fact a kid involved in a music program does better in school in general, which is never a bad thing. “Every statistic shows that a kid who is in a music program does better in school,” Ramón says. “Every. Study. And so this is just another net to reach kids.” 

What National Hispanic Heritage Month Means 

National Hispanic Heritage Month can mean a great deal of things to many people. To Ramón, that’s the beauty of it. Like Mariachi itself, National Hispanic Heritage Month has the power to educate, unify, and delight. 

“Celebrating through Mariachi music, playing the traditional songs that are over 100 years old, and sharing this art form that could die out,” Ramón replies when we ask what the month means to him. 

 “But it's still alive because of music education, and everyone comes to the concerts. Grandma, grandpa, brother, sister - everyone will be at the concert because it's something to bring the family together. So Hispanic Heritage Month highlights the beautiful art, the beautiful music, the beautiful food, and the history so that future generations don't forget their roots and then they get to celebrate it and share it in a way that builds community beyond just one culture.”

 “There's African American Heritage Month, there's Native American History Month. All these different cultures make the United States beautiful. All these cultures coming together. And so the more we celebrate diversity, the more we celebrate each other's culture, the better the world will be.”

For more information on how your school can get involved with and embrace Mariachi, fill out the form below.


Ewan Moore

After seven years writing about video games, Ewan made the jump to the music instrument industry to stop his family asking when he was going to get a real job. Mostly, though, he adores music and is passionate about its vital role throughout life - especially in education. He also played guitar in several bands with deeply embarrassing names that won't be revealed here. With a degree in journalism from an NCTJ-accredited university under his belt, Ewan uses everything he learned as a writer over the last decade to help answer any questions you might have about pBone Music in an accessible (and hopefully entertaining) way. Because if you can write 1,000 words on SSDs and ray-tracing, you can explain why plastic instruments are accessible, sustainable, and fun.