Mariachi fever hits Iowa State

Stephanie Caceres has mariachi fever.

Caceres, junior in elementary education, is part of a new club on campus that hopes to inspire others to be accepting of mariachi tunes and see the world differently through this type of music.

The idea started two years ago with three mariachi fever-infected students. It wasn’t until now that they got the courage to actually start to get other students involved.

For Caceres, the club is a continuation from her high school mariachi days. The college club formation started with Irma Tello’s Facebook post.

“I remember seeing the status,” Caceres, who is also the communication chair for the club, said. “I got a message and it said, ‘Hey guys, I want to start a mariachi [club]. Let’s start a mariachi!’ I had that mariachi fever so I was like, ‘heck yeah, I’ll do whatever!’ and I know she really reached out to people and [said] we should do this.”

The club formed fall 2014 semester at Noche de Cultura, an event hosted by Latino Heritage Committee, but the organization hasn’t yet been established. The group got an adviser — Adolfo Carrillo-Cabello, world languages and cultures lecturer — last week and just needs to finish up a few application processes before being recognized as an official organization.

“We want [to] benefit from being a recognized organization like reserving rooms in the Music Hall, getting support from [Government of the Student Body] for instruments we can’t afford, to buy the mariachi outfits,. We want to see if Iowa State will support a mariachi band,” said Ricky Corona, president of the club.

The mariachi members said they are excited about starting this organization and getting the chance to play their traditional music to the students, faculty and staff at Iowa State University.

“There’s a lot of excitement. Everybody just really wants to join the group and start playing beautiful music with each other. It’s the traditional aspect too and expressing the passion we have for music and working with other people and spreading our culture,” said Cindy Tello, sophomore in kinesiology and pre-physical therapy and the club’s secretary.

Corona, senior in civil engineering, said anyone who loves music would love to hear mariachi. All the mariachi members got together because they love music, especially something that’s within their culture.

Mariachi bands consist of at least two violins, two trumpets, one Spanish guitar, one vihuela and one guitarron and can sometimes reach 20 members.

The Iowa State mariachi organization consist of 13 members. They have four violinists, two guitarists, two singers and one person playing the vihuela.

A vihuela is a Mexican guitar-like string instrument from the 19th century and is mostly played in mariachi groups.

Irma Tello plays the violin and Cindy Tello plays the trumpet.

For the Tello family, music has been around their whole lives. Irma and Cindy got involved in music from their grandparents, parents and uncles.

They started playing their instruments in the fourth grade because their older sister and brother joined orchestra and they wanted to do the same. Irma has been playing for 12 years and Cindy has for about 10 years.

Caceres plays the guitar and Corona plays the vihuela. Corona taught himself how to play the vihuela at the age of 12. 

The group members have learned about five to six songs within a semesters worth of practice. They learned “La Bamba” in one night to prove to themselves how determined they are.

The ISU mariachi group will be open to any organization that wants to contact them to perform for an event. The point of the organization is to not separate the ISU community, but to bring them closer together, Corona said.

“Our main goal is to spread our culture. Whoever books us … we’re going to go play. [It] doesn’t matter who it is, what organization, we want to show them that mariachi music is beautiful,” Corona said.

What this new organization would like for the ISU community to learn is to be open to the idea and be supportive and join as the group begins its adventure.

Performing at Noche de Cultura for the Latino Heritage Committee gave these students an opportunity to showcase their talent and passion for traditional music and gave them an opportunity to be heard. Latino Student Initiatives has already contacted them to play at the graduation ceremony they host in May. Lambda Theta Nu sorority has also contacted them to play at a future event.

“To me, the demand for people wanting to hear mariachi music is surprising and awesome that people actually like the music we like,” Tello said.

The group hopes to add more than the traditional mariachi music, too. They hope to modernize the music by mixing traditional background music and more contemporary songs.

“I know we spoke about ‘Stand by Me’ or ‘The Cup Song’ or getting different genres of music into the mariachi style and I think it would be cool,” Tello said.

The group isn’t exclusive to Hispanic or Mexican students and welcomes anyone interested in learning more about mariachi music. All they ask for is for someone to have passion for music or wanting to try something new.

“This is our culture … [we are] just making the community more aware of it,” Caceres said. “We’re here and it’s not anything out of the ordinary. We’re people with culture … and we want you to join us and support us.”


The Reporter:

My name is Berenice Liborio. I’m a sophomore at Iowa State University with a double major in Journalism and Spanish. I am a first generation student being the oldest of four other siblings. I’m the first in my family to graduate high school and attend a big university. My dream is to inspire other Latinos in pursuing an education and raising awareness about culture. 



Photo by Blake Lanser Courtesy of Iowa State Daily

Check out the latest issue of Hola Iowa by clicking in the picture below:



Facebook Comments