Crockett students taking part in Mariachi workshop

Crockett Mariachi students are among the youngest taking part in a three-day Mariachi workshop in Midland this week.

Francisco Carreon, the Mariachi instructor at Crockett, organizes the event for the Hispanic Cultural Center in Midland.

“Noche de Mariachi” concert is May 15 at the Midland County Horseshoe Pavilion. The student concert is at 6:30 p.m. and the March Los Viajeros is at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $20 for adults and 10 for children 12 and under.

Carreon urged the community to come out and support the students on those nights.

He started in the workshops when he was a student about 17 or 18 years ago.

“… It still exists and now I work for the Hispanic Cultural Center at Midland organizing this event,” Carreon said.

About 250 students will participate, including 25 students from Crockett. There will also be students from Midland, El Paso and San Angelo.

Crockett, a middle school from El Paso and Goddard Junior High in Midland will take part.

The event is part concert and part learning opportunity.

“What we do is bring down about 13 instructors from all over the state of Texas, some instructors from New Mexico, Arizona, etc. Those students take three days of classes with all these instructors. Tomorrow (May 14) for instance, at the Amphitheater of the Horseshoe Arena, there will be a student showcase where each school is going to play individual songs. Then it will close off with the UTPB Mariachi and then Wednesday is the grand finale … All the students will get on stage and perform all the songs that they’ve learned throughout these three days. Then after that, the instructors go up and do a grand finale for the community,” Carreon said.

He added that it’s extremely important to start teaching the students about the culture and the music when they’re young.

They are taught for three years in middle school then move on to high school where they start taking part in state competitions.

Carreon started playing at age of 12 at Ector Junior High.

“This will be my 19th year involved in Mariachi.

I got started by mistake. They put Mariachi on my class schedule and … I ended up really enjoying it. I stuck with it and never stopped,” he added.

He added that he never thought he would end up teaching Mariachi in the school district where he started.

“It’s really cool to see how the students, once they are getting better, their engagement, the amount of commitment that they’re willing to do for it, I just get to see the kids starting the way I did then starting what we call get the mariachi fever,” Carreon said.

He added that once you get into it, you stick to it and it’s really fun.

“It’s a good thing for the kids to distract them and have them already engaging in community events out in public. It’s good for their speech not to be so shy in the future; just a lot of things they’ll be able to take with them for the rest of their life,” Carreon said.

For this conference, he said he focuses more on the educational aspect for the students.

“I bring them actual classroom teachers, instructors, to come teach them. We don’t really want to focus on the competition thing. We want all the students to support each other when they all perform,” he said.