ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Just a year into their program, a mariachi band made up of local elementary school students is gearing up for their biggest performance yet.
“I always liked mariachi bands and this was an opportunity for me to be a part of it,” said Emily Corral, an eighth-grader at Albuquerque Bilingual Academy.
The group was started by three teachers at the school last year.
“We started with just a small group of kids. We had only a handful of kids interested in the program,” said Daniel Villa, a teacher at the bilingual academy and professional mariachi player.
Though, Villa says the group grew fast. They’re now up to 50 kids, in both a beginner and intermediate group.
“It’s part of history and it’s really fun,” said fourth-grader Jugo Ortega.
The group’s skill caught the attention of a national conference coming into town.
“We were a new mariachi and we’re already getting calls from national conferences for us to come perform, so that tells something,” said Villa.
A national charter school event at The Hotel Albuquerque next week asked the band to open the conference.
“We learned about three new songs this year. They were pretty complicated but we managed to get through it,” said Corral.
The group has prepared 10 songs for the performance, which is set for Sunday afternoon.
“There’s no better accomplishment than seeing their progress both musically and as musicians. When they are singing in Spanish, even though some of them don’t speak Spanish as their first language, they get up there and sing our music, like their parent’s roots, you know? And it’s very very pleasing for us,” said Villa.
The kids love both the music and culture that comes with mariachi music.
“I get to play and sing, which is my two favorite things,” said Corral.
“I really like music,” said Ortega.
This weekend’s performance is not open to the public.