WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Mayberry Cultural and Fine Arts Magnet Middle School is introducing a new musical genre to students.
It’s the only middle school in Wichita to offer students the opportunity to learn mariachi. The director of orchestra and mariachi, Panya Amphone, says this is a way to connect students back to their roots.
“Mariachi is really fun for me. I am from Mexico, so it lets me express that side of me,” Jatziry Ramirez-Vazquez, a mariachi student, said.
This is the program’s first year.
“Right now, we currently have six students, but we’re looking to grow the program in the semester, next semester the years to come,” Amphone explained.
In the class, students are exposed to different instruments, including the violin and guitarrón.
“It’s really nice to give the kids that diversity in playing all different kinds of instruments in the mariachi, then when they go on past middle school, they can perform with any mariachi they want with any instrument that they want,” Amphone emphasized.
The director is inspired to bring what is a traditionally male-dominated genre to all his students.
“I think it’s very important for the kids to see just not male mariachi, but they also to see strong female mariachi examples. That way, they are able to find representation in their culture or with the people that they are studying with,” Amphone added.
This program is giving students a chance to celebrate el Día de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, helping them honor their loved ones who’ve passed through music.
The students will perform in their first concert on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Mayberry Auditorium.