By Annie Mitchell,
Davis High students passionate about Mexican music have the option to receive credit for their interest next year with the addition of a Mariachi band class to the course catalog. The course will be offered during seventh period at Da Vinci Charter Academy and taught by band teacher Thomas Slabaugh.
Students will sing in Spanish, play traditional mariachi instruments and study Mexican music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Musical genres covered in the year-long class include bolero, chatis, clasica, corrido, huapango, jarabe and more.
The Da Vinci course listing notes that “public performance in the community and at the high school will help facilitate an increase in skill levels and cultural awareness.” Though not included in the DHS program planner, both DHS and DVHS students are invited to sign up for the course.
Davis already has a community mariachi group for junior high and high school kids: Mariachi Puente– formed in 2012 by Emerson Jr. High library technician Ximena Jackson and her husband Hiram.
“[Students] can get grade credit for something they like,” said Jackson, a library technician at Emerson Junior High. “And it ends up being more accessible to students than having an after-school club. Some students have not been able to participate in Mariachi Puente in the past because they didn’t have transportation when we rehearsed, or had other obligations after school.”
Da Vinci counselor Erika Strand believes that Mariachi Puente will be a good “feeder program” and help strengthen the high school band.
“The Mariachi Puente Club has had tremendous success here in Davis over the past few years,” Strand said. “Many students would like to continue their passion for Mariachi music and a Mariachi class provides the opportunity to build this into students’ school experience.”
Strand expects 10-25 students to enroll.
“Probably about half a dozen students [will be from] Mariachi Puente, with maybe another half dozen not from Mariachi Puente. I think they’re looking forward to it,” Jackson said.
Jackson believes the class has the potential to develop a prominent music program in Davis, “with proper support.”
“It’s an exciting step,” Jackson said.