Positively Las Vegas


Nevada's next generation learning Mariachi music in school

Posted at 4:26 PM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-21 20:38:57-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There's a rhythm and beat that is uniquely Mexican. We're talking about Mariachi.

And as we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, 13 Action News anchor Kalyna Astrinos introduces two local brothers dedicated to teaching the next generation about this music, rich in history and tradition.


Johnny and Fernando Gonzalez are brothers and mariachi instructors here in Southern Nevada.

Johnny teaches a group of students called Mariachi Los Pumas at K.O. Knudson Middle School Academy of the Arts.

Fernando teaches at Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts and is the creator and instructor of this group, Mariachi Plata at the College of Southern Nevada.

Together, they're focused on keeping the tradition, history and joy of mariachi music alive.

"I think because, what makes mariachi interesting is that it's exciting. It's exciting, it's very versatile," says Johnny.

Mariachi is known as the folk music of Mexico. But the exact date it emerged is unknown.

"You can find old transcripts or manuscripts from the 1500s where they mention the word mariachi. 'Hey, the mariachi were outside in the plaza playing too loud last night.' So, we know its been around for as long as Mexico has been around," says Fernando.

Two key instruments create the sound people across the world can recognize.


"The reason you know that you're hearing mariachi ensemble when you hear it, is because the guitarron and vihuela are proprietary to mariachi music. Nobody else uses those instruments. So the combination of those two instruments with the trumpets and violins is what gives mariachi its very unique sound," says Fernando.

And it's not just the music.

"They're called trajes. We don't call them uniforms or costumes, we call them trajes. It's a suit. It's kind of like a tuxedo. In Mexico, the traje de charro it's one of the most respected forms of dress you can wear. Along with the military, there is the traje de charro," says Fernando.

There's a sense of pride from students.

"It's a lot of leadership, because I am not only representing myself, I am also representing the Hispanic community," says Deborah Carrillo, a member of Mariachi Plata.

She started off singing just like her father, eventually pursuing her passion for mariachi in 7th grade. She along with other students...

"It's really fun being part of the mariachi community" says 7th grader, Angel.

"My sister was already here and she chose mariachi. So, I wanted to be with my sister," says 8th grader, Angela.


Are part of the next generation, moving mariachi forward.

"It's just an amazing experience being up there you know representing who I am and the rest of the crowd," says Deborah.

"We are trying to show mariachi music is not just bar music. They are not just the guys in the restaurant asking for tips. It's an art form," says Fernando.