New Course Called ‘Musica Norteña’ Brings Border Ballads to Wildcat Nation


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Next year, Wildcat Nation will offer a new band class in the music program: Musica Norteña. This form of music comes from Mexico and will provide students the opportunity to learn the musical styles of a different culture.

Ms. Audrey McCombs, Ukiah High’s band teacher, told us the school started the class “for a few reasons, but the most important is representation.” She added, “Half of the population at UHS is Hispanic, and I felt that it was necessary to create a space for students to create music together that was relevant and meaningful to them.”

McCombs said, “This really puts me out of my comfort zone, I am no expert, but I feel it’s important to serve the students of UHS and I believe this is a great way to do that.”

The Musica Norteña class will be different from other band courses, McCombs said, because it is project-based. This means, “students will form small groups/conjuntos and learn the music of their choosing, and also traditional Mexican / border songs to learn more about the history of the music and the historical and musical relationship between Mexico and the US.”

According to McCombs, students signing up for the course should have music experience and be prepared to learn, “guitar, drums, bajo quinto, bass/tololoche, tuba, voice, and accordion.”

We spoke with 11th grader Roman Tanbakuchi about what inspired him to sign up for Musica Norteña. 

Tanbakuchi has grown up around musicians and told us, “music is very important to me”. He actually has his own band, which is called a conjunto in Spanish, along with his brother and two others. 

He is “excited for the class” because “I feel like we haven’t had a class like that before,  something that is based on Mexican-style music, and that’s pretty cool.”

Growing up in Ukiah, Tanbakuchi said, “I feel like in our city there is a lot of Hispanic culture. We should have a variety of cultural opportunities.”

Ms. McCombs talked about the importance of Ukiah High’s new Musica Norteña class saying, “No matter what language you speak, we all understand music.”

For any Wildcat expecting to take this class, McCombs said they will “become familiar with music and history of Mexico, which is something I suspect is not available to students on a day to day basis.”

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