Initial results from a study conducted at the University of North Texas indicate multiple layers of mentoring that occur during their annual summer camp for middle school and high school mariachi students. Based on the large amount of research in the field of Positive Youth Development, mentors play a significant role in the lives of students who might face challenges. Our camp provides the perfect opportunity for students across North Texas and beyond to come together, build friendships, and share in their love of mariachi.
There are many factors that can help our students be successful in school and life, but one of the most important is having committed, capable, caring adults in their lives. This has proven to be invaluable! In fact, mentoring is at the top of the list of the most important factors!
- Sustained, positive adult-youth relationships
- Youth life-skill building activities
- Youth participation and leadership of valued community activities.
At UNT's mariachi summer camp, mentoring occurs at several levels. The campers get to know the members of UNT's Mariachi Águilas who serve as counselors and teachers for all the campers, staying with them in university dorms for the duration of camp. These undergraduate students serve as powerful role models for the campers, showing them what it is like to be a college student and that college attendance is within their reach.
A second level of mentoring occurs as members of a professional group, Mariachi Quetzal, interact with the UNT undergrads and the campers. Members of this mariachi are all former UNT students and most were member of Águilas in the past. They have been highly visible not only in the camp, but in public schools where they work with students as they prepare for Extravaganzas and Fiestas. Quetzal members also serve as mentors for the UNT mariachi, helping them with performance and teaching techniques and giving them tips on being successful in college.
And everyone is mentored by Maestro José Hernández, the founder and director of Mariachi Sol de Mexico! Maestro Hernández attends the camp as our guest instructor and artist, working with all campers throughout each day and performing with them on the culminating concert! He inspires us all to work hard, to be proud of this musical culture, to do our best, and show us what hard work can provide! He is a shining example of mariachi education at its finest, and the campers and teachers are all excited to have him at our camp.
This ongoing study is continuing for its 4th year this summer at our 8th summer camp. Campers, students, teachers, and Maestro Hernández have all been interviewed and the impact of this multi-layered mentoring is unbelievable! Many former campers have applied to college, most of them the first in their families! Some come to UNT and are now members of Águilas and counselors for camp!!
So when folks in the public schools challenge the importance of mariachi, explain to them that when middle and high school students are able to form relationships with professional mariachis, teachers, and university students, the results can have a lasting positive influence on their lives! Viva mariachi!!