Samuel Alvarado- Video Interview

Samuel Alvarado, 24, is a passionate mariachi vocalist and violinist. He is currently minoring in Music Performance at Texas State University. A vocalist since he was six years old, Samuel specializes in the mariachi style of singing.

Mariachi refers to a specific style of music that is traditional in Mexico, but Samuel says it's more of a way of life to him.

"It is a completely different style than classical music," he said.

Alvarado also talked about the reason why he chose to pursue the mariachi style of singing in the first place.

"In no other type of music can you express so much," he said. "It's a very personal way of directing a song to someone. Especially in the mariachi style."

In addition, Samuel talks about the close relationship he has developed with music from very little as a way to cope with different things, such as his ADHD.

"Mariachi music has been my greatest escape," Alvarado said. "I have ADHD. I've struggled with it all my life. Music brought me out and allowed me to find myself."

According to an article from The Telegraph, and as Samuel references, there is research that suggests that music enhances your cognitive capabilities.

"Music makes different connections in your brain and it basically makes you smarter," Alvarado said.

Samuel also talked about his satisfaction with the evolution of music therapy in this day and age and the importance of normalizing it and giving it the credit it deserves.

"When I started off, the only form of therapy I had was game therapy," Alvarado said. "And now, I believe there are more music therapists that recommend that the child pick up an instrument or singing."

Samuel also plays the violin, true to the mariachi genre. According to Sam, he has played since he attended the sixth grade.

"It'll be a bit over eight years now," he said.

According to Samuel, he was part of one of the best mariachi in the country "at the top of his game."

"For me, I wish for mariachi to be in every single school," Alvarado said.

Samuel also talked about a big issue in the educational system concerning music programs, as well as his hopes for the future of music education.

"I know that music in particular is something that right now is facing some budget shortages," he said. "I wish the government would fund the arts way more than what they are now."

Alvarado plans to work in music education once he has graduated and become a music teacher at a college level. He hopes to spread the gift of music that helped him so much to others so that they may also have an outlet of expression as well as a coping mechanism for life.

Watch the video interview above as he joins me in a talk about music as an important resource and tool of self-enhancement, and stick around for an excerpt of his performace of the popular song "El Triste" by Jose Jose in true mariachi style of song.

Freddy Medina- Audio Interview

Freddy Medina and Gustavo Figueoa sitting in front of a piano
Freddy Medina and I in front of a piano.

Alfredo “Freddy” Medina, 23, is a self-taught musician born and raised in Laredo, TX. He is a recent ¬†graduate of Texas State University and currently has an accounting job, but his passions lie elsewhere. His weapon of choice is the elegant piano, and his trigger, the ivory keys.

A relative newcomer, Freddy said he started to play the piano just two years ago, but he feels proud to say he has come a long way all on his own in this relatively short time.

“It comes naturally to me, and I have a really good memory, so I don’t sight-read too much but I can pick up a new song as long as I practice it,” Medina said.

Unlike many musicians, Freddy ¬†doesn’t worry too much about reading traditional sheet music. Instead, he said, he prefers learning songs through video format by watching others or looking at MIDI diagrams created in a program called Synthesia, which is popular among the YouTube piano community.

In these videos, notes fall into a piano keyboard at the time they need to be played so it’s easy to visualize how to play the song they’re describing.

When asked why he plays the piano, he explained that he didn’t so much choose to play the keys, but rather, the instrument itself chose him in a way.

“I was throwing out my garbage one day and I saw it leaning against the dumpster. I picked it up and took it home and it worked!” The rest, as Medina said, is history.

He has been playing the piano ever since then. He said he is determined to keep learning and to always get better at playing, despite not having as much time to practice as he would like.

Medina believes that it’s important for the average person to become familiar with an instrument even if they don’t play any yet.

“I believe that it’s important for everybody to create as much as they can,” Medina said. “Music is an outlet for me to be creative, to be artistic… and it’s just another way to express myself.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of playing, according to Freddy, is looking at the reactions that people have to his playing when he successfully establishes an emotional connection with his audience.

“I really love being able to play music and see the expressions in people’s faces as they dance or smile along,” Medina said.

As for the piece he performed, Yiruma’s “A River Flows In You”, he explained he has wokred on learning it for a friend throughout the span of three months, practicing when he can.

To better understand music, one has to first understand what exactly drives musicians like Freddy to so passionately play music and create their own sound.

Listen as he joins me in this episode of Bound By Sound’s audio podcast for an interview, as well as a beautiful performance of “A River Flows In You” by Yiruma, played by our great guest artist, Freddy Medina.