Lizeth Colina, a freshman nursing major at Texas A&M International University, has fond memories of family get togethers at which, as a little girl, she would sing to the tunes of mariachi music.
"My grandfather used to be a professional mariachi musician in Mexico City and when we would have carne asadas (barbecues), he would play the guitar and ask me to sing along," said Colina.
Although shyness often discouraged her from singing out loud when she was a child, Colina has slowly re-claimed Mexican music as part of herself and is now ready to sing her heart out by enrolling in a new mariachi class A&M International is offering this fall.
The class, taught by veteran band director Elmo López Sr., meets Monday evenings at 8 p.m. and is accepting students through late registration (through Sept. 3). The course will include practice sessions and an introduction to the history of mariachi.
Designed for all interested students, the band will play at University events as the University's official Mariachi Band, López said.
"The Mariachi Festival we had on campus recently attracted 12-15 mariachi groups from both local and area high schools and an audience of more than 1,500 to our campus. This prompted the University's interest to offer a class that expands the overall plan for our Language, Literature and Arts Department to include instruction of all musical instruments and study" he said.
The Mariachi Band will be an addition to the University's Band and choir, López said, adding that the mariachi movement is quickly gaining popularity throughout the United States.
"This style of music is becoming part of the music curricula of not only middle schools and high schools but also colleges and universities, particularly in the Southwest," López said. "This is part of our culture. We hear it on the radio, television, and we identify with it and because of that, we want to continue and develop it."
Colina, also a trumpet player, said she looks forward to starting the class because she will finally have the opportunity to sing in front of a crowd.
"Mariachi music is part of our culture and it is time for us to participate and learn about it," Colina said.
Meanwhile, Colina's classmates, Celia Correa, freshman undecided major, and Gabriella Puente, sophomore music major, said they consider mariachi music as part of their heritage.
"Mariachi is what we are known for," Correa said.
Puente, said she, too, grew up listening to groups like Mariachi Vargas, Mariachi Sol de Mexico and Mariachi Cobre.
"My dad would always listen to this music and you hear so much of it that you learn to like it," Puente said.
For further information, please contact the Language, Literature, and Arts Department at 326-2606. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.