Does the prospect of teaching mariachi style songs make you feel uncomfortable? I had the opportunity to work with teachers in Las Vegas recently and we explored how to teach mariachi style to children by using the recent publication, ¡Canta, mariachi, canta! This new resource presents six traditional Mexican songs that are suitable for children’s voices. José Hernandez and Marcia Neel collaborated to develop these user-friendly materials. All of the songs are arranged in keys that are child friendly, with vocal ranges that are accessible for both children and young adolescents. We spent an entire day singing the songs in the book, playing the instrumental parts and learning traditional dances.
The format of this resource provides teachers who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with this style of music with tools and strategies to help their students successfully sing in the mariachi style. In addition to the songs, the book delivers a short historical background about each of the songs, along with a Spanish pronunciation guide for all of the words. Maestro Hernandez’s daughter, Chrystal, sings the songs on the recordings in the appropriate style, so the students can hear a quality model of the tone quality, musicality and Spanish text. The full score outlines parts for the Vihuela, guitar, and soprano, alto and bass xylophone. One of the aspects that are most attractive are the digital downloads of audio MP3 files and singer PDF files of song sheets for the students.
Teachers can use these songs to teach music concepts such as meter signature, key signatures, triple and duple meter, rhythmic note values, pitch identification and pitch matching, vowel unification, text painting, dynamics, syllabic stress and word stress. The songs can also help teachers comply with including individual state standards and the national music standards: Performing, responding and connecting. If a teacher encourages the students to improvise or compose in the mariachi style, they can then include the standard creating. ¡Muy bien!
Dr. Lynn Brinckmeyer
Dr. Lynn M. Brinckmeyer is Professor of Music, Associate Director for the School of Music and Director of Choral Music Education at Texas State University.