Our Programs

Marimba Ensemble (San Gabriel)

San Gabriel Mission, San Gabriel, CA

Donation Gal: $3,000



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In 2013, Claretians and local community leaders started a Marimba Ensemble at San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, California.

The marimba is a xylophone-like percussion instrument consisting of wooden keys that produce sounds when struck with mallets to create rhythms and songs. The instrument is quite large and requires the musicians to work together as a team to play it. Being in this Marimba Ensemble is not just about music education and expression; participating in the group teaches the young players valuable life skills, such as leadership, collaboration, and a sense of purpose. The Marimba Ensemble provides a safe and engaging out-of-school environment for these young people to spend their time.

This program at San Gabriel runs seven days a week. The teachers and players have individual lessons Monday through Friday from 3 to 9 pm. The ensemble stores its two marimbas in the music room in the Mission school, and there is a teacher available for lessons every weekday after homework and other school responsibilities are completed. On Saturdays, the ensemble holds a two-hour group practice for everyone to play together. They spend one hour on Saturdays practicing songs for their outside gigs and another hour practicing with and mentoring the San Gabriel Children’s Choir. On Sundays, they perform with this choir at Mass.

The San Gabriel Marimba Ensemble plays gigs all around the area, including large cultural celebrations, city and parish events, quinceañeras, private parties, retirements, and birthdays. Playing these events helps the group raise funds to continue and expand the ensemble while also allowing the young musicians to form connections with their larger community, meet new people, and learn about history and different cultures. Playing events and holding fundraisers also helps pay for their joint summer tour with the Marimba Ensemble from Holy Cross, which has now become a tradition.

How is it that this ensemble gets teens and young adults to devote so much time to teaching, mentoring, and playing music? They do it because it’s fun and allows them to appreciate music and express their creativity, but also because San Gabriel’s Marimba Ensemble builds relationships. An adult leader of the ensemble explains it this way:
“It’s a family. They come together, they work together, they teach one another. And they are growing as leaders. It instills confidence in them. They mentor the younger players by being good examples, as well as showing them how to play.”

Your donation to the St. Jude League Community Development will help fund vital programs in our communities, like the Marimba Ensemble. Learn more about issues related to youth and how the St. Jude League Community Development aids communities experiencing need on our Issues pages.