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Mariachi Academy of New York

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School dedicated to teaching a Mexican musical tradition

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Harlem
Institution, Folklife, Latin/ Latino/ American, Education

Place Matters Profile

Written by Elena Martínez

Though there are various mariachi bands that perform in New York, the tradition is really kept alive by Ramón Ponce Jr. and his father, Ramón Sr . Twenty years ago they founded the group Mariachi Real de Mexico, and they also started the Mariachi Academy of New York. The Academy, where the younger Ramón is the Musical Director, will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, in 2012.

Ramón Jr. was born in Puebla, Mexico in 1975. He comes from musical families on both sides—he’s a fourth generation musician. Ramón Ponce Sr. was a member of Mariachi Puebla, and his son began singing at the age of four and playing the guitar at age nine. Later on, Ramón Jr. took some vihuela (a five-stringed guitar-like instrument), guitarrón, and piano lessons. The Ponce family moved to New York in 1987 and settled in Kew Gardens, Queens. A...

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Bobby Sanabria

This is the first place on the East Coast to teach mariachi vocals, instrument instruction, music theory and repertoire to children ages seven through seventeen. The classes are taught by local musicians who are part of professional mariachi bands in the area. The lessons and rehearsals take place at the St. Paul School grammar school during the school year. Their building is part of a church on 117th Street that is devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego, who saw the vision of Guadalupe on Tepeyac. The Mariachi Academy was established ten years ago by Ramón Ponce, Jr., and his father, Ramón Ponce, Sr. They will celebrate their 10th anniversary in the fall of 2012. (January 2012)

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