Student mariachi group from Tempe set to be featured at international conference in Switzerland

Kyrene Middle School's award-winning mariachi student group, as well as their teacher, is set to be recognized internationally this week.

For the group, all of the mariachi class practices and performances were virtual. Students played their instruments from home, and Julio Contreras edited everything to create some music magic.

"It was quite a challenge. It was also a learning experience because I had to rethink how I used to teach before, you know, COVID," said Contreras. "Pretty much a lot of time into planning, preparing videos, getting new music, recording lessons, also learning how to use the new [Adobe] Premiere Pro, how to put the videos all together and set up a system in which I was able to help them when they needed the help. Obviously on Zoom. We were only able to meet once per week."

One of the virtual performances was so impressive, that it has been picked up by an international education conference. At this conference, participants from 85 countries will experience mariachi music from Kyrene Middle School.

"From what I understand, 2,500 participants in total. There are many different sessions that people can register for the 2,500 participants. The reason that the video stood out so much for me is the way that Mr. Contreras put it all together, just the way that it flowed, that the way that the students, again, like we talked about, were at home, but yet it sounded like they were all in the same room," said one school official.

"I'm very proud of our group, our school, pretty much Kyrene School District participating in that festival. I'm very proud of it. I'm happy for the students, and I hope that all the teachers and students participating in the conference will learn a little bit about mariachi music, if it's something new," said Contreras.

The conference is taking place in Switzerland.

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