Mariachi is Mexico’s most famous form of traditional music. Channel One News provides a brief history of the genre and visits teens at Benito Juarez High School in Chicago who are earning academic credits — and cash — for learning the art of mariachi.
Introduce these vocabulary words and key terms to students before viewing the video.
lyrics (noun): The words of a song.
Heard on the Air: “And when it comes to mariachi, the lyrics are just as important as the sound.”
heritage (noun): Something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition.
Heard on the Air: “Mariachi is also a way to reconnect with their heritage.“
Original Air Date: September 15, 2016
Use these discussion prompts for whole-class, think-pair-share or small group discussions.
Mariachi originated in the western Mexican state of Jalisco (highlighted in the map) at least 200 years ago. Now this musical genre — which combines elements of polkas and waltzes with Mexican folk styles — is popular throughout the whole country. And for many Mexican-Americans, mariachi is a way to connect with their heritage. Here’s a look at some other thriving cultural traditions throughout Mexico.
Every year on November 1 and 2, Mexicans honor deceased family members with special foods, graveside parties, parades, carnivals and even skull-shaped candy. Rooted in ancient Aztec traditions, the Day of the Dead is a national holiday celebrated throughout Mexico. The most elaborate — and probably the most famous — celebrations take place in Oaxaca, in southwestern Mexico.
Nothing is more exciting than fight night at Arena Mexico in Mexico City — the world’s largest wrestling stadium. Wrestler Enrique Ugartechea developed Mexico’s version of professional wrestling in 1863. Today lucha libre is the country’s most popular sport after soccer. Masked fighters called luchadores dress as heroes or villains and perform high-flying moves. Some become folk heroes, starring in comic books and movies.
Legend has it that the Virgin Mary visited a peasant named Juan Diego in December 1531, asking him to build her a church in Mexico City. Today Mexicans from across the country visit the Basilica of Guadalupe on December 12 — the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Mexican children wear traditional costumes to be blessed during this religious festival.
Outside Mexico Cinco de Mayo is sometimes mistaken for Mexico’s independence day. But the day’s festivities — which include parades, food and folk music — actually commemorate the Mexican Army’s surprise victory over bigger and better-equipped invading French forces in the 1862 Battle of Puebla in east-central Mexico. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican culture in general.
Banda is a brass-based form of Mexican traditional music established in the 1880s in the state of Sinaloa in northwestern Mexico. Like mariachi, banda incorporates elements of polka music and is most famous for traditional folk songs called rancheras. Along with rancheras and other traditional genres, bandas also play modern Mexican pop, rock and cumbias.
Son Jarocho is regional folk music from Veracruz. (“Son” is a category of folk music; “jarochos” are people from Veracruz.) It’s been evolving for at least 250 years. Bands play a variety of guitars along with the quijada — made from a donkey’s jawbone! — and the guiro. Every year in early February, Veracruz hosts the rollicking, three-day Son Jarocho Music Festival.
Imagine you’re in the audience at a mariachi performance. You might be at a formal concert, a restaurant or a street fair. Write a blog post telling about the experience. Describe what you hear and see and what you enjoyed the most.
Have students compare the Channel One News coverage of mariachi with this interview with an all-female mariachi band, “How an All-Woman Mariachi Band Is Owning the Genre” (NOTE: external link), published on nbcnews.com on May 23, 2016.
Ask students the following question and have them share their thoughts on an exit ticket:
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