Mariachi Music in the Classroom


Mariachi music has emerged as the primary musical representation of nationalism in Mexico, and is growing increasingly popular in the southwestern and other areas throughout the United States.

Mariachi ResourcesAccording to the International Journal of Music Education, it is essential that mariachi instruction be incorporated in the school music curriculum, as it helps transfer a fundamental component of the musical culture for a large portion of the Hispanic population.

For more insight into the increasing need to include Mariachi music in our education system, I spoke with Sister Kathleen Doutt,  IHM, D.M.A. , Professor of Music at Immaculata University in Malvern, Pennsylvania.   Sister Doutt shared her thoughts on the increasing interest in the genre and some resources for teachers to delve deeper into it.  Here are a few excerpts from our conversation:

Is there a growing need for mariachi music in the music classroom?

First, I believe that the growth of the Latino, and specifically Mexican population here in the United States calls for greater attention to mariachi music at all educational levels.  Also, during the last two or three decades, leaders in music education have noted the importance of including a broad spectrum of world music in school music programs.  Certainly an important source would be musical styles, such as mariachi, which developed in our neighboring country of Mexico.   Moreover, the mariachi style emphasizes an authentic, well-placed singing style and both vocal and instrumental facility, which are essential to solid musical development.

When identifying mariachi music, many will refer to the instrumental genre.  Is there an equal appetite for choral mariachi music in the classroom?

Mariachi is both instrumental and vocal;  participants are trained to play and sing.   However, the singing is not choral in the usual sense but is performed typically by one or two soloists.

Do you know of any mariachi-specific curriculum at the elementary school or high school level?

A methods series which I would recommend is ¡Simplemente Mariachi!, published by Northeastern Music Publications, Inc.  For information about this item, click here.

Online Resources:

  • Click here for mariachi resources available from J.W. Pepper.
  • Click here   for Smithsonian Debuts Virtual Exhibition of Latino Music:  Música del Pueblo,  the Smithsonian’s new virtual exhibit, offering visitors a look at the roots of Latino music.  Mariachi is included among the site’s 24 short videos.
  • Click here  to read a brief history provided by Kjos Publishing on the mariachi music movement in music education, as detailed by Jeff Nevin and Noe Sanchez.
  • Click here  for information on the annual Mariachi Festival in San Jose, California.
  • Click here for information on Mariachi Cobre, the group in residence at the Mexican Pavilion at Disney World’s EPCOT Center.
  • Click here  for a bibliography of sources on mariachi music.

Mariachi programs in schools:

  • Click here  for mariachi connections at the University of Arizona.
  • Click here  for information about the music education program with mariachi emphasis at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.



Karen DeSimone
Karen DeSimone is a graduate of Immaculata College with a Bachelor degree in Music Education and a certificate in Elementary Education. She also has done graduate work in Elementary Education through West Chester University.

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