‘The rhythm gets to me’: Conjunto music motivating Edinburg elementary students in after-school program
When students in an after-school program at Bett’s Elementary in Edinburg expressed an interest in music, assistant principal Emmanuel Leon took advantage of the situation.
“I would like to share what I know with these kids because I know that as an English learner, growing up, sometimes it gets difficult and sometimes you need that motivation and just the feeling of success,” Leon said.
Leon has a background in conjunto music, so he gathered some instruments for students to play.
“I saw it in them,” Leon said. “As soon as they grabbed the instrument, I told them, 'Do this, do that,' [and] they’re able to catch it right away.”
The students instantly fell in love.
“I feel like when I play, like I really get into the music,” said third-grader Joaquin Martinez. “Like the rhythm gets to me."
It’s also helped some students find purpose and motivated them academically.
“I was, like, a not good kid," said fourth-grader Eduardo Falcon. "But now, I got on the team, so I picked up my grades better. I behave better in the class.”
"It’s something that motivates them daily to do better and to feel good about themselves because now they're doing something they feel successful in," Leon said.
Now, these students say they look forward to coming to school because it means they can play.
"That’s the point of all this: It’s to help them grow, help them learn to love something bigger that just what their doing themselves and to enjoy coming to school," said Edinburg CISD spokesperson Lisa Ayala.