Mariachi maestro Jose Hernandez halted the music Thursday shortly after the semicircle of musicians gathered around him had launched into "La Noche y Tu."
"You have a double forte at the end," Hernandez said. "I want dramatic."
The advanced-level musicians attending the University of North Texas Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp started again, filling the room in the UNT Music Building with a blast of sound that quickly diminished. DRC/David Minton Simon Castillo, Greg Chavez and Adrian Cavazos, right, play guitarrón during a group rehearsal as part of the University of North Texas Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp on Thursday in Denton. View larger More photos Photo store DRC/David Minton Mariachi maestro Jose Hernandez gives advice to students participating in the University of North Texas Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp on Thursday. View larger More photos Photo store
The camp has grown from 24 middle and high school students the first year to more than 100 this year - its fourth. Students come from all over the North Texas region.
Adriana Montes, a senior at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, has attended the camp for three years.
"Every year we learn something different, something new," Montes said.
She started playing violin in middle school, but wasn't really drawn to music until much later.
"I thought, me play an instrument, oh no; me singing, oh no," she said.
Now, Montes said, she enjoys seeing how music connects people.
"We can connect with everyone just by playing a song," she said.
Montes said Hernandez has taught her that she needs to feel the music in order for the audience to feel the music.
Hernandez, now in his second year of teaching, said he came back for the students.
Mariachi plays a big role in his family, he said, and he enjoys sharing it. Hernandez and his brother, Jesus, who both taught at the camp this week, perform in the ensemble Mariachi Sol de Mexico, which has played for film scores such as Rango and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
Hernandez said this year the "excitement is a little more noticeable" because the students are more comfortable around him.
Juan Sigala, a Paschal High School graduate, said Hernandez "teaches a lot about style and a lot about passion." A three-year veteran of the camp, he said he enjoys learning and performing with the other students.
Sigala, whose mariachi-playing uncle gave him his first violin eight years ago, plans to attend UNT in the fall to study music.
Gregorio Chavez, a guitarrón player who graduated from Sam Houston High School in Arlington, also is attending UNT next semester. And although he won't be studying music, Chavez said, mariachi camp played a big part in his decision.
Chavez said he is learning how to master his instrument at camp. He started out as a classical musician, playing the cello. But mariachi is totally different, he said.
"In mariachi you feed off each other," he said.
One of Chavez's favorite parts about camp is the evening jam sessions, which give the students time to play the songs they want to play.
"They play until we make them stop," said Donna Emmanuel, UNT music professor and founder of the camp.
She said she has enjoyed watching the camp grow and change.
"It's the fruition of a dream," Emmanuel said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
SHOWING OFF THEIR SKILLS
Teacher Jose Hernandez and University of North Texas Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp participants will perform a free concert at noon on Saturday in the Auditorium Building, located on West Hickory Street between Avenues A and B.