GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been shown that getting kids into fine arts can help build up confidence and boost overall learning. And students in the Grand Prairie Independent School District are now getting a chance to let their music skills flourish in a mariachi class.

It is a new school year across North Texas, and the first school year ever for Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy. But some of the sounds in the hallways originated in the 19th Century. Every school in the Grand Prairie ISD lets students to practice mariachi music. It is one of seven fine arts programs offered at the academy.

Instructor Marta Ocampo said that mariachi class is just one more way to get kids involved in instrumental music. “They are learning how to read music and read rhythms,” she said. And what makes this opportunity unique is that it is for students 6th grade to 12th grade, allowing the kids to have twice as much practice time as they would receive at a more traditional campus, and three more years of instruction time.

“When they get to the 12th grade level, colleges will be looking for them, and not the opposite way,” stated Ocampo. “They’re going to have the talent and technique.”

Talent is not the only thing that matters here. Students must pass grade requirements and keep up with AP classes just to audition to apply for the academy.

This year’s students all plan on being musicians for the rest of their lives. “It’s really cool,” said student Mario Morales. “I have a passion for it, it’s what I really like, and it’s entertaining.”

“It’s just fun,” added Ocampo. “You’re learning how to play well, but you’re having a blast doing it.”

Mariachi is now a part of the UIL music competition, and the Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy has even performed at AT&T Stadium during the Dallas Cowboys football games. But, since they are a new school, the program has been unable to afford mariachi costumes. Once they have a PTA and boosters, the academy’s principal said, getting to that next step will be much easier.

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