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IE Latino Voices shines light on Latino-led and serving organizations.

May 29: IE Latino Voices

Paco Licea, Board Vice President with Herencia Mariachi Academy

Yvette Walker

With KVCR News, I'm Yvette Walker. This is IE Latino Voices where we invite representatives from Latino led and Latino serving organizations to share their stories and their impact in our region. Joining me today is Paco Licea, Board Vice President with Herencia Mariachi Academy. Thank you so much for being with us today Paco.

Paco Licea

Thank you so much for having us.

Yvette

Paco, please talk about the origin of the Herencia Mariachi Academy.

Paco

I’d love to. Herencia Mariachi Academy started eight years ago in the backyard of our president's house. His kids wanted to learn mariachi, and there was nothing in the Inland Empire at that time. So he formed a nonprofit organization and brought in some maestros. And it has now evolved to we have our own location in Corona. But his whole thing was, if we could put instruments in their hands instead of guns, then they have a better chance to go to college. And that's where we started.

Yvette

Please share the vision of Herencia Mariachi Academy.

Paco

Absolutely. It's evolved, but the vision is very simple: Teach these people through music, through their culture, through mariachi, about life, about being positive, about confidence, and get them to leave us when they go to college. And we do that by teaching them how to read music, which is not easy. It's like learning a whole different language. They have to learn to read, obviously play an instrument, and sing. And then they have to evolve. It evolves into performing. And the performance is always the funnest part for the parents. But it's always the most difficult part for our pupils.

Yvette

Paco, are their upcoming performances the community can join and what can they expect?

Paco

Absolutely. So, our next big one is September 21 at Dos Lagos from 6:00 to 8:00pm. And we have it there every year. It's our biggest concert. We draw close to 1000 people, and all four levels perform: Beginners 1, Beginners 2, Intermediate and Advanced. That is a stepping stone to how we raise our funds for our academy because we keep the costs very low. It's $100 a month, and they go eight times a month. And the reason we do that is because most of our families are low income, and we want to make sure that this is an option for them. And so they can't not go because financially it's very expensive for them.

Yvette

Paco, can you share the age range of those that participate in the program?

Paco

Absolutely. Five years and up. So, we want them to be able to focus a little because they're in a music class. And then so our average age of our Beginners 1 & 2 is anywhere between seven to eight years old, but we take them at five. And then our average age of our Intermediate and Advanced kids are anywhere between 11 and 15 years old.

Yvette

Please share what the future of Herencia Mariachi Academy looks like.

Paco

I'd love to. This, I think, is the most exciting. This obviously started off as just mariachi classes. But we've now evolved where we are teaching after school mariachi programs at Hemet Unified School District and Perris Unified School District. And now we're doubling the schools that we're teaching at. And the whole point of this is to be able to teach mariachi at a very young age. So, when they get to high school, the high schools are getting ready to start teaching mariachi just like they do with band. For example, Hemet Unified just hired a mariachi teacher for high school. So, they use us to get the kids ready, so they can move on. The classes at these schools are being taught by our advanced kids that are 15, 16, 17, 18. We actually pay them to go teach mariachi at the younger age. And then our goal is with the younger kids. The advanced kids that are in high school is we start pairing them with colleges that have mariachi programs, so they can see themselves going to college. The whole vision of Herencia Mariachi Academy is to get them to see that they can start using mariachi as an instrument to go to college.

Yvette

Paco, what's the best way to connect with you and at Herencia Mariachi Academy?

Paco

Very easy to find if you just type in Herencia Mariachi Academy Corona. You'll find our YouTube at Herencia Mariachi Academy. Our Instagram is @hma_corona and our Facebook is @herenciamariachiacademy also.

Yvette

Thank you so much for being with us today Paco.

Paco Licea

Thank you for having me.

 Yvette Walker

Join us again next week for IE Latino Voices. You can find this story and others on our website at kvcrnews.org/ielatinovoices. IE Latino Voices is produced by KVCR Public Media and is funded by generous support from the CIELO Fund at IECF, uplifting and investing in the IE’s Latino community. For KVCR News, I'm Yvette Walker.

Yvette Walker is a Spanish bilingual, Southern California native and owner of Premier Marketing & Public Relations, a full-service, digital media and traditional media marketing and public relations firm and produces and hosts ABC News Affiliate - Southern California Business Report.