Mariachi band provides Junior with new social outlet

Micah Martin, Staff Writer

Mariachi music belongs to a fast paced genre that sports a Latin twist. With special flares such as the traditional suit, called the charro, which can weigh anywhere from five to ten pounds because of its metal buttons. The clothing is able to create a special look, while its unique instruments are able to create a sound that is unlike many other types of music. Known for its upbeat attitude and its ability to get its listeners dancing, this music creates a lively atmosphere for everyone listening. “It’s fun to play. Even if you just listen to it you want to dance,” said Jose Tellez, a Central Junior who’s a member of Mariachi Patria Juvenile, which translates to The Juvenile Patriots.

Tellez started playing mariachi with this group in Feb. of 2014, and he’s been playing with them since. For almost a year he has had the chance to play with Omaha’s youngest, and one of the most popular, mariachi groups.

At first, he wasn’t sure about his decision to become part of this group, but after a while he found that his fellow musicians had become like a second family to him, and that the practices and gigs had become some of his favorite things to do. “It’s a great feeling,” said Tellez. “Before I wasn’t very social, and they helped me open up and see things differently.” Some of the music might be difficult to learn, and there might be some long nights, but Tellez would definitely argue that the hard work is well worth the overall experience.

Tellez stumbled upon mariachi while he was looking for new music online and he’s been interested in it ever since. But it was actually his mother who found the group that he now plays in. After encouraging him to set up an appointment, Tellez met with the group while they practiced and found that he wanted to give playing in the band a chance. He shared his interest with them, and was asked to come back the next week to audition.

For his assessment he played a piece of his choice and a few scales. “They made me do scales all the way up into the third position, which was really hard, but I managed through,” said Tellez. After his performance he was invited to be in the band, where he has since been able to meet the people that he has come to call his friends.

Made up of ten musicians and including instruments such as guitars, a trumpet, a guitarron (bass like instrument), vihuelas (smaller guitar like instrument) and violins. All of the musicians learn the music by ear instead of reading sheet music, which can make things somewhat challenging for Tellez to learn and memorize. However, that doesn’t stop him from playing violin in the band and working on his singing, so that he can sing in gigs throughout the upcoming year.

Currently the group is on a three month break in order to practice and get better, but as soon as then three months are over they’ll be back to playing gigs all over Omaha and the surrounding area. With mainly violin practices on Wednesdays and entire group practices on Saturdays, the group normally plays for three to four hours reviewing as well as learning new pieces. Right now they practice at the house of one of the creators of The Juvenile Patriots, but they aspire to one day purchase their own building, so that they can convert into a studio of their own.

Playing in events such as birthdays, weddings, quinces, anniversaries and baptisms, the band has taken Tellez to places like Saint Louis, York and Kansas City. This aspect of traveling is one of his favorite parts of playing in the band. It’s really a way for the group to bond while doing something that they all love.

Sometimes it may be hard for Tellez to manage school and practice, but the things that he’s gained from sticking with it and juggling the two has been  worthwhile. “I get to learn from them. There were things that I didn’t know, like going up to third position… but now it’s much easier for me to do on the violin…You get to learn new tricks,” added Tellez.

Tellez has put a lot into the band, but he’s also found that’s he’s also gotten a lot out of it as well. “It’s been a great experience, I really love it. I’m just glad because I’ve meet more people, and these people have become really important in my life,” said Tellez. “At first they were strangers, but now they’re like a second family.”