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Many in the 14-member ensemble have taken private music classes, and they practice twice a week. That lets them charge twice the average rate of $8 (100 pesos) per song for bands with six members.

Still, on a recent night, none of the Mexican and foreign revelers dancing to the energetic two-step rhythms at the plaza seemed to mind that most of the bands lacked polish, instead requesting songs until they ran out of money or energy.

“Most mariachis right now just put on the charro suit and go out to the street to play and they forget that after the flag, the mariachi is what best represents Mexico,” Lemus said. “But if the new generations learn to play it like it should be, they will ennoble the music.”