Mariachi ensembles feature violins, trumpets, guitars, vihuela, and guitarron. You may notice there are no percussion instruments featured in the list! So what about Mariachi percussion? Through the years a few Mariachi groups have added percussion instruments to their ensembles, however, this is unusual! What is not rare is the percussive element that exists in Mariachi music, void of actual percussion instruments present in ensembles. The beat and drive of Mariachi music are achieved through the string section!
Achieving the Percussive Element in Mariachi Music
The vihuela and classical guitar provide the rhythmic back-beat in Mariachi music. They achieve the percussive element through precise strumming techniques. These strumming patterns include downstrokes and upstrokes. Additionally, players use their left hand to mute the strings while with their right-hand drum on the body of the guitar over the sound hole. This technique creates a unique and percussive sound.
Watch this video from the National Mariachi Workshop for Educators to learn more about the strumming techniques:
Importance of Tone
It is apparent good classical guitar tone is crucial in supporting the resonance of the guitarron and vihuela. A frequent topic when discussing instruction of young musicians in Mariachi music is the quality of instruments students bring to class. West Music carries the finest guitarrones and vihuelas available, but it is our Westwood line of classical guitars that grabs the attention of Mariachi instructors.
Strumming techniques to create the percussive drive in Mariachi translates very well on Westwood guitars because of their fine resonate and durable qualities. Often, Mariachi teachers across the country find their students purchasing inexpensive guitars through alternative outlets or will rent instrument through the school, spending around $100.00 per year. If only they knew they can own a quality Westwood guitar for less!
If you would like to learn more about our Westwood classical guitars and how to find the correct classical guitar size for your students, read our blog Mariachi Guitars for Kids of All Ages. We at West Music are passionate about Mariachi and we are always happy to help you along your mariachi education journey. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randy Hargis is our Education Consultant for General Music and Mariachi. He has worked in the music industry since 1977 when he began his gigging career at the young age of 15. Before coming to West Music in 2011 Randy worked as a music education consultant as well a sales manager and marketing manager for an electronic musical instrument company.
Randy is passionate about his role in helping music teachers find the right instruments and learning materials for the classroom.