Hitting The High Notes: Bands, From Marching To Mariachi

BOSTON (CBS) – No matter your age, you can probably name at least one teacher who profoundly affected your life.

Rachel Childers, who plays Second Horn for the B.S.O., upon reflection, reached back to when she was in first grade in suburban Detroit: "I had this amazing teacher who was a bar pianist, so she could play anything under the sun and she would take requests. So from early on, I had this ownership of what I wanted to do."

Like Childers, Rahn Dorsey, Boston's Chief of Education, also grew up in Michigan, in inner-city Detroit.

"Music was a lifeline for me. I've played several instruments, and I've been a songwriter and producer for most of my adult life, so it's incredible," said Dorsey. "I think what music gives you is a simultaneous blend of knowledge development and skill development, and asks you to engage your whole self as you're learning. So it's history, language acquisition, math, team-building, and community-building all rolled into one."

On a scale of one to ten, Dorsey puts Boston at five or six for its music program offerings. While he laments the retreat from arts instruction in American cities, he touts Boston's unique partnerships with neighborhood cultural organizations like Sociedad Latina and Zumix.

Then, there are teachers like Anthony Zambrano, who implemented the first Mariachi program in Boston public schools and brought his second-through-fifth grade Mariachi Juvenil Atlantico Band from the Hayes and Otis schools to the citywide arts festival on Boston Common in June.

"I'm from El Paso, Texas so it's part of my culture. It's all over the Southwest, it's big in Nevada, where in one county there are 300 students doing this," said Zambrano.

"The music is very catchy. It's fun to play. The next step is to get some uniforms. Once you have full Mariachi uniforms, and the kids play in them, there's this feeling that overwhelms them and the parents are also supportive," he said of doing it in Boston.

His students hold Zambrano in high esteem, with one third-grade Mariachi guitarist saying, "I love Mr. Zambrano as my music teacher. He's the best, I love him with all my heart."

In Part Three of the series, Mary Blake will visit Fox Hill Elementary School in Burlington, and Jeanne Coroniti's fourth grade music class.