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FBISD’s Marichi Ensemble Continues Growth, Provides Diverse Opportunity for Music Students

(FORT BEND ISD) – Fort Bend ISD continues to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating the contributions of students, staff and community members from the diverse nations of Latin America and Spain.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the district’s mariachi ensemble has been touring the community, including the FBISD Administration Building, to share this special music form thanks to teacher Silvia Johnston and her students. Their program was comprised of “De colores,” “Las mañanitas,” and “Arboles de la barranca.”

Mariachi is a UIL-organized fine arts program and is currently offered in FBISD at Marshall and Willowridge high schools. The ensemble consists of guitars, vihuelas, guitarróns, trumpets, and violins. Learn more here about the district’s program.

Johnston teaches mariachi in Fort Bend ISD and has been teaching in Texas since 2017. She is married to the mariachi teacher in Lamar Consolidated ISD. Mariachi is a very popular and historical music style, believed to have emerged in the late 1700s or early 1800s in Mexico, but is now played widely across Latin America, including Colombia, Johnston’s native country.

In the program, students learn to play their respective instruments and the lyrics to both classic and contemporary songs. When performing, the students also wear the traditional suit of mariachi musicians, a charro, which consists of a jacket, a pair of trousers or skirt, boots, and a wide bow tie. The colorful threading on the sides of the jackets, skirts and trousers matches the students’ school colors, gold for Marshall and blue for Willowridge, and the ties and shoulder patches also include their corresponding school abbreviations.

Because of the very intricate work that goes into constructing these suits, very few manufacturers produce them in the United States, and the suits worn by FBISD students took over two years to make.

Johnston knows that she is doing more than just teaching music in her classroom. She is equipping her students with discipline and determination in their growing musical proficiency and accomplishment. Many of her performers are also of Latin descent, and in them, she is instilling a sense of pride in learning the centuries-old art form.

She’s also building their character for their future success.

“I hope to teach students the leadership and personal skills that will allow them to be successful in their lives,” she said. “I hope that the mariachi connects students culturally and creates understanding and compassion between all students on campus.”

You can see FBISD’s mariachi ensemble as part of Sugar Land Heritage Foundation’s Dia de los Muertos Celebration, to be held Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Sugar Land Town Square. The ensemble will perform beginning at 2 p.m.


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