Williams’ new music teacher takes mariachi program to the next level

Maestro Idbin Acosta couldn’t feel more at home at Williams High School than if he had gone to school there.

For his first teaching position, Acosta, 26, said being accepted at a school district with an already budding mariachi program was a dream come true.

“I grew up listening to mariachi music at home,” Acosta said. “It is something that I carry with me from my parents, but I never imagined that it would come into the education system as a class.”

The group’s first concert of the year is this Saturday, in conjunction with an open house hosted by Migrant Education, and Acosta said he’s looking forward to the Williams community coming out to support the mariachi program and music education in the schools.

Acosta, who lives in Woodland, grew up in Yuba City. He graduated this past June from the University of California, at Davis, with a master’s degree in education, which his teaching credentials in music education.

A gifted musician, Acosta plays alto saxophone, piano, and guitar, and has transferred those skills to teach himself the guitarrón, a six-string bass instrument used in mariachi, as well as the trumpet.

Although he teaches beginning, advanced band, and beginning guitar as part of the school district’s comprehensive music program, Acosta said it was the mariachi program at Williams High School that made him apply for the opening, left by teacher Eric Roberts, who took a position in the Vacaville area.

“This is one of few schools that has piloted a mariachi program, and it really caught my eye after I attended the mariachi conference for educators in Las Vegas,” Acosta said. “I got to meet other music educators interested in bringing mariachi music to the public education system. There wasn’t many in Northern California so I was interested in coming to this school. So far it has been wonderful.”

As part of the comprehensive music program at Williams, students are also learning music technology and music composition, utilizing the new recording studio that opened last year.
Acosta said music is an integral part of human development, and taking music classes in school helps students learn discipline that will help them navigate life as they move on to other careers or embark on careers in music, music technology, or music education.
“Today’s students are training for jobs that don’t even exist yet,” he said. “If a student goes on to compose music, even electronic music, we don’t know what that is going to sound like in 10 or 20 years. We give them the resources and the training ground, so when they go out into the real world they will know how to use the software and have the tools in their pocket so they can be the music of the future.”

One thing Acosta does know, that parental involvement in schools is important, especially when parents have different backgrounds than the music taught in school today.
Acosta speaks to his own experience, having parents that supported his career goals, but could not relate to the classical music that was part of his training.

“I think if I had mariachi, then they would have been at every concert,” he said.

Acosta hopes the mariachi program will help bridge a gap, and connect parents to their children’s education.

“We’re not just educating the students, we are educating the parents,” Acosta said. “Getting the parents involved is important for the music program to grow, and to create a link between the school and the community. I’m looking forward to seeing how the community supports us as well.”

The advanced mariachi band is comprised of eight boys and one girl. The concert will begin at 6 PM on Saturday, Sept. 22, in the Williams Jr./Sr. High School multi-purpose room. ■