MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO)— Music is a universal language that knows no barriers and rooted deep in Hispanic culture is the beautiful music of mariachi.

“That musical style goes back centuries, obviously today it’s something a little bit different especially with the education system. In the schools it’s something students study formally, they read music, have musical theory, they learn how to play, not only by reading music but they also use ear training as well,” said Alex Treviño, the mariachi director of the nationally award winning McAllen High School (McHi) Mariachi Oro in McAllen, Texas.

“You don’t just go home and forget about it. It’s with you all the time, it’s definitely a way of connecting with our culture, it’s definitely a way of entertaining people, it’s our passion,” said Treviño.

Treviño coaches about 100 mariachi students at McHi, including his daughter, Ashley Treviño, a senior this year.

“My dad started doing mariachi in high school and he ended up really liking it. My parents actually met through mariachi. He was at one school and my mom was at another school playing mariachi, but for the same district, so they would see each other and that’s how they met. I think it’s awesome that now my parent’s kids, me and my siblings, we have come to find a love for mariachi,” said Ashley Treviño about the music that has bonded her family.

That love is not just creating strength and bonding for the family, but for their heritage as well.

“One of the times where you really notice it, that you’re connecting with your heritage, with your family, with your ancestors is when you play for your family and you just see their smiles and they get so excited because that’s the music they grew up with and now you’re growing up with it as well…I hope in the future when I have my own kids I’ll be able to pass it on to them,” said Ashley Treviño.

She is not the only mariachi member that wants to keep the rich tradition alive.

“I love seeing people’s faces when we perform and how we’re telling our story while we’re playing and singing,” said Natalie Carmona, a McHi senior and important musician for Mariachi Oro

Natalie plays the guitar and sings. The talented teen has already won multiple mariachi competitions and she loves it so much that even on her free time off school she performs at local special events. She is always sure to wear her full outfit known as a ‘traje‘ in Spanish.

“The mariachi, the charro, is very important to us, we don’t like to disrespect the ‘traje‘, we like to be groomed, we wear it with pride, we respect the traje. So, when we perform it brings us to a different level so when we tell people, they’re like ‘oh it’s just mariachi’, but we’re like no, it’s mariachi but it means more than that,” said Carmona.

The most important part of the music is connecting with her Hispanic roots.

“It makes me proud to be ‘Mexicana‘, I love the traje. It really brings out my culture and the traje just changes it a lot, you’re not just singing, you’re wearing the traje, you’re showcasing the Mexican culture,” said Carmona.

Mariachi Oro just won their sixth state championship!

Even through a pandemic, the mariachi group is still practicing via Zoom, instruments and all.