Mariachi may soon have a state band

HARLINGEN — Mariachi has a long tradition in music.

It commands such respect and passion in Mexican culture that music educators want the Texas Music Educators Association to have a competition for an all state band.

“For decades, TMEA has been honoring all-region groups and the categories such as band, choir and orchestra,” said Ronnie Rios, director of music for the Harlingen school district.

“Several years ago the region decided to start honoring the students that perform at a high level in mariachi,” Rios said. “We are trying to start an all-state mariachi group. We don’t have one now, but it’s coming. UIL already has a state mariachi contest in which school groups participate as an ensemble.”

Mariachi can be a fine extension of one’s musical abilities with any instrument.

A lot of it is exactly the same in terms of technique, but there are different embellishments in mariachi music.

This genre has strong roots in the Mexican community.

“Mariachi music is part of our heritage, it’s part of our culture down here in the Rio Grande Valley,” he said. “And it’s live, usually. Mostly every performance is in front of a live enthusiastic audience, so it’s helpful and it benefits students in those ways.”

In recent years, more Anglos have become involved in both mariachi dance groups and musical groups, which Rios welcomes.

“I think mariachi music is for everyone,” he said. “It’s so easy to embrace because it’s so fun to perform and its so fun to listen to. I just think that mariachi music is for everyone, especially down in the Rio Grande Valley where it’s part of the culture.”