Valeria Garza is an incoming 8th grader at Roma Middle School in Roma, Texas. During the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Valeria performed Rocio Durcal’s “De Serenata” alongside Mariachi Aztlan from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. In 2017, Valeria placed 1st in the Elementary Category of the National Vocal Competition.
Interview with Valeria Garza
Leon: Valeria, tell us how old you are, where you are from, and what mariachi group you play with.
Valeria: I am 13 years old, and I was born in McAllen, Texas. I was raised in Roma, but my family also has a house in Miguel Alemán, Mexico, so we go there a lot! I play with Mariachi Escandón from Roma Middle School.
Leon: So when did you first get involved with mariachi and why?
Valeria: When I was in fourth grade I performed in the school talent show and, although I didn’t win, I enjoyed it a lot. My mom also played in the Roma Mariachi when she was young and that also motivated me to do it. In the 6th grade, I auditioned to be part of our middle school mariachi and, I made it!
Leon: What instrument do you play?
Valeria: I play violin.
Leon: Did you already know how to play it or did you first pick it up in mariachi class?
Valeria: I first learned it mariachi with my teachers Mr. Hinojosa and Mr. Delgadillo.
Leon: Are you the first in your family to be involved in music?
Valeria: Besides my mom who played a little when she was young, I’m probably a first-generation musician.
Leon: How does your family feel about you being in mariachi?
Valeria: They are really really supportive! Every time I have a competition they always come out to watch me and support me. They even drove to San Antonio to watch me at the Extravaganza.
Leon: Do you plan to be in Mariachi in High School?
Valeria: Yes I do.
Leon: What have you learned in mariachi that has helped you in other aspects of your life?
Valeria: Thanks to my mariachi teachers I have learned to be really responsible and independent and that’s gonna help me when I get older.
Leon: Just like myself and the rest of the world, you had to stay home while this pandemic was happening, how did you keep yourself busy?
Valeria: I’ve been trying to learn how to skateboard, but besides that I’ve been really bored. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube and Vampire Diaries on Netflix.
Leon: Now that the state of Texas is open, what is something that you want to do that you couldn’t because of quarantine?
Valeria: I’m actually at La Plaza Mall in McAllen as we speak right now, but something I’ve been wanting to do is hang out with my friends,I really miss them!
Leon: Valeria, you competed in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza last year? Was this your first time competing? How was your experience overall?
Valeria: It was my second time competing. The first time I was there, I placed 1st in the elementary category of the National Vocal Competition. Last year I traveled to San Antonio with my group and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had. It was really fun being with the group and with my friends, I really enjoyed it!
Leon: What’s your favorite music genre?
Valeria: I don’t really have one but I do listen to a lot of mariachi, pop, and reggaeton.
Leon: Who’s your favorite artist?
Valeria: I don’t really think I can pick one. I listen to Rocío Dúrcal, Luis Miguel, and Juan Gabrieli Gabriel, and they are all super talented.
Leon: Last question, Valeria. You’re still very young, but have you given any thought to what you want to do in life? Do you wish to pursue a career in music, or maybe a different field?
Valeria: I definitely want a minor in music, but I think I would like to become a doctor. Probably one that deals with children.
End of interview
Valeria plays with Mariachi Escandón under the direction of Abiel Hinojosa. Just like most of his students, Hinojosa was raised and attended grade school in Roma. He first started playing mariachi in the 6th grade under the direction of Yamil Yunes, the pioneer of mariachi education in Roma. Hinojosa went on to study Spanish at the University of Texas Pan American now known as UTRGV. During his time there, he played the harp with the UTPA Mariachi while also playing with his own Mariachi San Pedro. After graduating, Hinojosa worked in San Antonio’s Harlandale ISD before returning to his home town and joining the Roma ISD mariachi program as a director. Hinojosa, along with Eloy Garza and Antonio Delgadillo are responsible for the success of this wonderful mariachi program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Roma Mariachi program stayed active in social media and even went viral with several virtual performances.
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