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Tucson International Conference launches free online modules

Tucson International Conference launches free online modules
Posted at 11:33 AM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 15:30:46-04

The 38th annual Tucson International Mariachi Conference is among the canceled events amid the pandemic, but unlike most-- in this case, the show will go on.

That is to say, though musicians and dancers from around the world might not be coming here to compete and learn at the Tucson international mariachi conference, but for the first time ever, the instruction will be coming to them--for free.

Adrian Perez is one of many who are disappointed the conference had to be canceled.

He started off as a student at the Tucson International Mariachi Conference over a decade ago, worked his way up to becoming a music instructor there, and now sits on the board.

“It’s the largest continually running mariachi conference in not only the U.S. but in the world,” Perez told KGUN9.

Though, amid the pandemic, they had to refund over $100,000-- prompting them to call it quits.

Well, sort of...

“Me and a couple board members started brainstorming how do we capture what we teach in a workshop and make that into a mini module that’s accessible online,” added Perez.

So they rolled out a light curriculum that mirrors what students would learn at the conference, for music and dance.

Chantal Ralls is the Chair for the ballet folklorico for the Tucson International Mariachi Conference.

“Ballet folklorico is a Mexican dance style. It originated in Mexico. It’s a very big thing in the Tucson community. It’s in the schools,” Ralls told KGUN9.

She adds this process has had its challenges.

“Having to figure out iMovie, putting the videos together, it’s harder than you would think,” she added.

John Contreras, a board member of the conference says he can relate to Ralls.

Contreras also happens to be the Director of the Aztlan Mariachi Program out of Pueblo High School.

He tells KGUN9 this has been a hard year for him and for his students.

“Seniors came up to me crying. They were looking forward to competing one last time for their senior year,” he added.

Though he says while his students will not be able to physically attend the conference, they can still get the musical experience.

“This is an opportunity for us to grow and perhaps in the future use it as a tool to help enhance their lessons. They do say that necessity is the mother of invention and we’re hoping this will move mariachi and folklorico education forward,” he said.

Through these modules, they will be putting on workshops just like they would have in the conference, only these are virtual.

“I definitely think it’s going to be worth it for all of us,” said Rall.

Meantime Perez says he is proud the Tucson International Mariachi Conference will be continuing the tradition of music education.

He says this is also an honor to be the first conference to do something like this.

“It also gives me a lot of satisfaction knowing that we’re still pushing forward in a different way with these kind of digital online modules and I think it’s pretty awesome that we will have the potential to reach pretty much anyone that has a computer across the world,” said Perez.

So, stay tuned.

The board says they plan to have roughly 50 modules, each about 10 minutes long.

They also encourage everyone to check them, regardless of your musical background.

Click here for access to their Facebook page.

Click here for access to the modules.