Renowned mariachi group visits UNT for summer camp

Renowned mariachi group visits UNT for summer camp

Renowned mariachi group visits UNT for summer camp
July 22
19:08 2014

Steven James / Staff Writer

UNT’s College of Music is working with Grammy-nominated mariachi group Mariachi Sol de Mexico to host the Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp to teach middle and high school music students about mariachi music and college.

Mariachi is a type of Mexican folk music that became popular in the 20th century. Common instruments for mariachi music include trumpets, guitars and violins.

At the camp, students will take part in workshops in different sections. The sectionals will be taught by College of Music faculty, members of Mariachi Sol de Mexico, members of UNT’s Mariachi Aguilas, members of Denton’s Mariachi Quetzal, high school and middle school band directors and past camp attendees. Some students will work on vocals, while other students will work on the violin, armonía, guitarrón and trumpet.

Only 100 students are selected to attend the summer camp each year.  The camp has been around since 2008, when camp director and music education associate professor Donna Emmanuel brought the program to UNT.

“Part of this is to give kids a reason to go to college,” Emmanuel said.

She also said that this is the first year the camp is able to afford bringing in all the members of Mariachi Sol de Mexico.

“This particular mariachi has never played in this part of Texas,” she said. “In the mariachi world, it’s like Lady Gaga coming here.”

One of the UNT students returning to teach this year is Spanish sophomore Ivan Leon, who attended the camp for all four years of high school. His primary instrument while at camp was guitar.

“As soon as I was having the experience, I got good at it, and had fun,” Leon said.

He also said that while teaching, he will try to make sure the campers do not pick up bad habits while playing.  He will make sure they do not play too fast, that they play with wrists and not their whole arms and that they are strumming the right strings.

“One of the things I hope they can gather is that mariachi can be challenging, and that it can also be fun,” he said.

The workshops will last from July 22 to July 26. As a finale, a free camp concert will take place July 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the Music Building.

Mariachi Sol de Mexico will perform a concert July 26 as well. A reception before the concert will be at 6 p.m. and the concert will be at 7 p.m. Both will be in the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Tickets, which are free for UNT students with a student ID, can either be bought online or at the box office.

Rachel Yoder, College of Music director of communications, has been helping with the publicity of the camp.

“It’s sort of a communal experience, being in a mariachi band,” Yoder said. “It’s sort of different than the classical music tradition that happens in other types of ensembles.”

She also said the camp is an entry point for students to be exposed to and mingle with different cultures, and the camp is a place for the students to improve their musical skills.

“Imagine being a middle schooler and then getting up there and playing for Jose Hernandez, for what is probably a packed house,” she said. “They always seem to be having a lot of fun, and they come back year after year.”

Feature Image: Mariachi Quetzal, the opening band for Mariachi Sol de Mexico’s first UNT concert, presents a birthday song to Daniel Estrada who celebrates his 63 birthday. Those attending the Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp, a UNT week- long workshop for middle and high school students, will get a chance to perform alongside Mariachi Sol de Mexico at the showcase. Photo by Zixian Chen – Contributing Photographer

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