With each of the last three years that Tempe High School’s Mariachi de Tempehas been in existence, the students have improved their skills, their comaraderie and their confidence.
The 17 students who study Mariachi during their orchestra class with teacher Jill Osborne, are gaining more exposure and the reviews have been excellent. But it was the kindness of strangers that gave this group an even bigger boost. Until now, the students have dressed in all black for their performances - no frills, just black shirts and black pants or skirts. A non-profit called Watermark for Kids
heard about them and wanted to help. The organization, which works to empower underserved kids to express their character, leadership, creativity, compassion & spirit, donated brand new trajes - or Mariachi suits – to the program. The students are thrilled.
"We're very grateful to have these new uniforms. Personally, I feel like a true mariachi player now," said THS sophmore Jose Bernal. "I can actually express how I feel about Mariachi music in this type of uniform."
THS junior Jasmine Bermudez said it make the group feel official and provides an opportunity to want to go and do bigger things.
"I want peope to know that you do Mariachi music because you love it, you grow with your classmates and you build a family together," she said. "You're expressing all your built-up emotions and you're putting it into your playing. Mariachi is a fun style and it's really wild and everybody loves it because it puts smiles on people's faces. And that's what we're really trying to do."
Their teacher says her students are so deserving of the successes they are experiencing.
"I love, love, love working with the students. They are motivated to learn and work diligently to improve both their playing technique and performance skills," Ms. Osborne said. "Frequently the Mariachi students will come in at lunch to work on music with me."
The students of Mariachi de Tempe debuted their festive new suits, along with big smiles, while performing at a January Governing Board meeting where Tempe High alum Berdetta Hodge and re-elected Board Members Sandy Lowe and Michelle Helm were being sworn in. TV station Telemundo came out to cover the performance and the students received a standing ovation.
Over the winter break, before receiving the trajes, the students were invited to perform along with several Tempe Police officers for a packed house at Chaparral Mobile Village’s Christmas Party. The residents were delighted. One officer played the accordion, while the others lent a hand with vocals.
WATCH: Mariachi de Tempe performs with Tempe Police
“We had a blast,” said Tempe Police Commander Mike Pooley. “It was great to get out into the community and we are just so impressed with the students from Tempe High.”
“I feel like the luckiest teacher on the planet,” said Osborne. “My students are fabulous. We were happy to be part of this show!
While currently these orchestra students play Mariachi when they can, on designated days in class, and on their own time at lunch, Osborne dreams of teaching a full Mariachi class next year.
"Hopefully enough students will sign up that we can have a class that is dedicated to learning the Hispanic music culture. I believe this is incredibly important especially with our current climate in politics. We have many students who have family members who have played in a Mariachi ensemble. I want to keep the Mariachi musical culture alive for future generations,” she said.
Mariachi de Tempe's upcoming performances:
February 26, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
City of Tempe’s Hayden’s Ferry Days Festival
Tempe History Museum
809 E. Southern Ave.
April 24, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
Concert at Tempe High School
1730 S. Mill Ave
Members of the Tempe Police Department and MusicaNova Orchestra will perform with Mariachi de Tempe.