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Mariachi camp helps students learn music, culture (w/gallery)

By by KATHLEEN DUNCAN - SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE
July 26, 2014 at 2:26 a.m.
Updated July 27, 2014 at 2:27 a.m.

Charlie Hand, 11, of Victoria, practices a chord at guitar camp at Victoria East High School.

In one classroom, the strumming of guitars was intertwined with voices raised in song; next door was a confluence of guitars, a guitarron, trumpets and violins.

In its seventh year, guitar camp was joined by mariachi camp at Victoria East High School. Every morning for one week in July, 24 students are taught not only the skills to play instruments but also the love of music.

Some students like Saxon Stephens, 16, of Victoria, were already a part of Juan Escamilla's mariachi program in VISD and joined the camp to keep playing during the summer months. "I love it, and I came to just do it," Stephens said with a smile as he held his guitarron.

Others like Ramiro Torres, 11, of Victoria, were experiencing Escamilla's tutelage in mariachi for the first time. Ramiro was the only student in the room tackling learning the trumpet.

"I thought it looked like fun," he said.

Escamilla stressed the importance of the summer mariachi camp, hopeful that it will continue in following years. "This is an opportunity for students to play and learn about the culture of the mariachi," he said.

Don Tharp, teacher of the guitar camp, was overjoyed that the mariachi camp joined guitar camp this year. Some students left after the first session of guitar camp and went into the second session of mariachi camp to have the opportunity to learn from both teachers.

"It's the most amazing thing; I see how music impacts young people, how they take it with them the rest of their lives," he said. "It becomes a part of who they are."

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