In summer of 2009, four U-46 music teachers attended the National Mariachi Workshop for Educators in Washington, D.C., where they learned how to play and teach all of the Mariachi instruments, as well as the history, culture, and styles of Mariachi music. During the 2009-2010 school year, those teachers piloted an extracurricular Mariachi guitar group at Streamwood High School. Unfortunately, at the end of that school year, the recession struck and the program was put on hold.
In summer of 2011, funding was reinstated for the Mariachi program and four U-46 teachers (one returning) attended the National Mariachi Workshop for Educators in Las Vegas, NV. During this conference, the Mariachi team constructed a plan to purchase additional instruments and implement extracurricular Mariachi ensembles at Larsen, Kimball, and Canton Middle Schools during the 2011-2012 school year. These programs were a rousing success, and were asked to perform across the school district for public and parent events as well as in the community.
In the summer of 2013, four U-46 teachers (two returning) attended the National Mariachi Workshop for Educators in Las Vegas, NV. At the conference, they learned more advanced techniques and literature. Unfortunately, during the 2013-2014 school year, enrollment declined at Canton Middle School, however it remained strong at both Larsen and Kimball Middle Schools. Student musicians from Elgin and Larkin High Schools were invited to perform with the ensembles for public performances, particularly on trumpet and violin.
During the 2014-2017 school years, program leadership was inconsistent and enrollment declined significantly. Then, in 2017, new leadership came onboard with a renewed enthusiasm for the Mariachi program. In the summer of 2018, U-46 brought the instructional team of the National Mariachi Workshops for Educators to U-46 to teach six U-46 teachers (two returning) and one administrator how to play and teach Mariachi instruments, music, culture, and styles. During this conference, Mariachi Joya Dorada de U-46 was born! The instructional team created a name for the group, a logo, and a publicity plan, deciding to perform as one large district-wide group while rebuilding the program. The group advertised on social media and the district website, and received over 35 performance requests that first year! During the 2018-2019 school year, Mariachi instruction was offered at Canton, Ellis, Larsen, and Tefft Middle Schools as well as Elgin and Streamwood High Schools.
In the summer of 2019, U-46 again brought the instructional team from the National Mariachi Workshops for Educators to U-46, this time teaching eight teachers, two paraprofessionals, and three recent U-46 alumni how to teach Mariachi instruments, music, culture, and styles. With the growth of the teaching team and the increase of demand in the community, Mariachi Joya Dorada de U-46 was expanded to include Abbott and Kimball Middle Schools as well during the 2019-2020 school year. During the school year, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra also caught the growing enthusiasm and support for Mariachi music, inviting the professional group Mariachi Acero de Las Vegas to perform onstage with the symphony in March of 2020. Leading up to the concert, the professional musicians from Mariachi Acero worked with Mariachi Joya Dorada de U-46's students and teachers in workshops for two days, and Mariachi Joya Dorada performed in the lobby of the Hemmens prior to the public performance on March 7, 2020. This concert was so well-received that the Symphony contracted with Mariachi Acero for two similar concerts in their 2020-2021 season!
Mariachi Joya Dorada de U-46 continues to be an extracurricular performance ensemble comprised of students from several U-46 middle and high schools. Mariachi instruction is currently available at the following schools:
- Canton Middle School
- Tefft Middle School
- Streamwood High School
- Larsen Middle School
- Ellis Middle School
- Kimball Middle School
Students from schools not listed above may participate in Mariachi at one of these schools if they can provide their own transportation to and from rehearsals. Mariachi Joya Dorada de U-46 includes instruction on all Mariachi instruments (with the exception of harp) as well as voice, including guitar, violin, trumpet, vihuela, and guitarrón.