Recent headlines have caused many to worry about American youth. Meanwhile, those who work quietly to get an education, volunteer and become involved in their community rarely grace the front pages. Ismael Palacios is an example of a young man who applies himself and will become one of the leaders of tomorrow.
Palacios graduated from Roswell High School in 2010. He received a $2,300 scholarship from SOY (Save Our Youth) Mariachi that same year. He is three classes away from receiving his associate degree in HVAC from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. He plans to continue his education to get a degree in business administration.
At the age of 21, Palacios teaches music to those younger than himself at SOY Mariachi, 1120 South Grand, where he has been working as volunteer for many years. He first became involved with SOY Mariachi at the age of 10 when a teacher, Dr. Sara Montgomery, invited him and other young people to see what the group had to offer.
A week ago, Palacios became one of the newest members of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, where he says he hopes to help his community in such events as the Piñata Fest.
While others struggle to master one language, he is bilingual. He plays four musical instruments — violin, trumpet, guitar and keyboard. He started with the violin. Then he learned trumpet when he took band at RHS. Since then, he is largely self-taught and confesses that trumpet is his favorite instrument.
Through SOY Mariachi, Palacios leads the Nuevo Amanecer, a band of nine 10- to 12-year-olds, which including himself makes a total of 10. “We have two violins, two trumpets, two rhythm, one guitaron (base guitar), and three singers,” he said.
He is one of four siblings. Born in Greeley, Colo., he came to Roswell from Denver with his family when he was seven years old because his parents believed they could make a better life here. He is devoted to his family, soft-spoken and unassuming.
Bobby Villegas, his mentor, explained how Pacacios took over a part of the family business at the age of 15. “He takes care of the ordering and the finances, everything. He is quite a businessman.”
The family owns the Tortilleria El Metate, 105 E Mcgaffey St., tortilla manufacturer.
His family encourages him in his music. His mother purchased his first violin. Although he plays mariachi music, Palacios enjoys other kinds of music, including regional Mexican music which, as the name suggests, varies from state to state, hip-hop and country.
Palacios practices between 20 minutes to an hour every day, although he gets practice during the two hours when he teaches his mariachi troupe, with an additional two-hour class for violin. On Thursday, he participates in “Play for Fun” run by Dr. Sara Montgomery, at the Presbyterian Church, 400 W. Third St., from 7 to 8:30 p.m. “It is,” Palacios said, “just for fun.”
He said he likes teaching. “It is a matter of dedicating the time. Kids are kids; they get distracted. You just have to take the time to teach them.”
He provides the music and leads fundraising events to get the instruments and gear. The clothing alone costs around $380. His most recent project for SOY Mariachi and the Neuvo Amanecer is trying to get enough money to take them to Tucson, Ariz., for a mariachi festival. “Last year we worked to raise the $15,000 needed to go to a conference in Albuquerque. This year, we are saving to attend a festival in Tucson that will be held in the last week of April.”
On February 14, they will hold a “Fun Raiser” — Especial Serenate — for Valentine’s Day. The event will last from 6:30 a.m to 8 p.m., when the mariachis will take their music to the location of one’s choosing. “We’ll go to your job, your home or a restaurant to sing five songs and give one rose,” he said. This unique gift costs $125. “Although,” he quips, “we wouldn’t turn down sponsors.”
His dreams are as diverse as his talent. Palacios says he would also like to join the service. Helping his community are among his goals. “I like to do a little bit of everything, I want to develop musically, financially, spiritually and physically, too.”
For more information about Valentine’s Day Especial Serenate or to reserve a time, call 637-0391 or 317-0495.