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'Mariachi Is For Everyone': Peruvian Dad Passing On His Passion For Mexican Mariachi Music In Utah

Photo of Marx Huancas and his daughter Connie rehearsing a mariachi song.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

For Marx Huancas, a Davis County father of two girls, mariachi music is more than a pastime. It’s a way to keep his family, who moved from Peru to Utah about 10 years ago, connected to their Latino heritage. In Utah, Latinos make up 14% of the state’s population of roughly 3 million residents. Huancas was inspired to open a mariachi school in Utah as a way to help Latino parents like him who want to keep their families connected to their culture even while living in the United States.

Photo of Connie Huancas rehearsing a mariachi song.
Credit Kelsie Moore / KUER
Connie Huancas rehearses a mariachi song at her home in Clinton, Utah. Her father, Marx Huancas, said he was inspired to start the Utah Mariachi Program after realizing that Connie didn’t know how to sing any songs in Spanish. Connie is now a top student at his mariachi school and she is listening and singing more Spanish songs.
Photo of Marx Huancas speaking to his mariachi class students.
Credit Kelsie Moore / KUER
Utah Mariachi Program Director Marx Huancas gives his students pointers on how to strum their guitars at their Monday class in Ogden. Huancas started the Utah Mariachi Program last November with five students. He’s gotten more demand from students across the Wasatch Front and now also offers classes in Layton, Provo and West Jordan.
Photo of Marx Huancas teaching his mariachi class students.
Credit Kelsie Moore / KUER
Marx Huancas teaches some of his youngest mariachi students at his Ogden classroom how to raise their bows. Huancas teaches students of all levels of experience and ages. He said the goal of the classes is not to push all of his students into a mariachi career. Rather, he wants them to learn the value of working hard, practice and discipline.
Photo of young mariachi student.
Credit Kelsie Moore / KUER
Utah Mariachi Program Director Marx Huancas instructs 6-year-old Jaden Fisher how to support the violin under his chin. Some parents say they are seeing their children become more confident and better at speaking in Spanish because of the mariachi school.
Photo of mariachi student taking direction.
Credit Kelsie Moore / KUER
Alan Oliva, 14, right, listens to Utah Mariachi Director Marx Huancas go over their lesson for the day. Oliva’s grandfather is from Mexico and used to play mariachi music. Oliva’s mom, Ruth, is from Honduras but she said she thinks mariachi music is international.

Rocio is coming to KUER after spending most of her life under the blistering Las Vegas sun and later Phoenix. She earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish at the University of Nevada, Reno. She did brief stints at The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Reno Public Radio. She enjoys wandering through life with her husband and their toy poodle.
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