Spanish classes join national March Madness song event

This week students taking Spanish classes throughout Cedar Falls finished their final voting for an event called Locura de Marzo, or March Madness, but this is no normal March Madness. This contest is with popular Spanish music videos instead of basketball teams. 

Spanish 2 teacher Christine Gruhn teaches at Peet and Holmes and has been having her classes participate in Locura de Marzo since about 2018 or 2019.

“Locura de Marzo is a tournament done in the style of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, but with Spanish language music. Two songs go up against each other each day, and students in Spanish classes all over the world vote on Sr. Ashby’s website for the one they prefer. The song with the most votes moves on to the next round, and the other song is eliminated from the competition,” Gruhn said. 

Freshman Morgan Fort is in Spanish 1 at Peet and said, “Locura de Marzo was a fun experience. It was nice to hear different styles of music and a nice way to get a look at different Spanish cultures.”

Locura de Marzo started in 2017 (based on the blog by Señor Ashby), and has “definitely grown a lot in popularity (and participation) in the last few years.” Gruhn said. “Spanish classes from every state in the U.S. participate, as well as at least 12 other countries.”

Ashby is a teacher in Zeeland, Mich., and works with middle school students teaching Spanish, P.E. and Spanish immersion P.E. Ashby and his wife have four kids under the age of 10. There is no public email for him, and he is naturally very busy, but after DJing in college, he started teaching in public schools and blended songs that were in English, but mixed with the Spanish translation. After seeing how his students enjoyed it, he continued to make his own music and later came up with Locura de Marzo.

Ashby used to select the songs, “but in the last couple of years as the tournament has grown, he has started having Spanish teachers from all over the country and world nominate songs. He uses a Facebook group that teachers can join and communicates through that group. They are usually current popular songs but sometimes a really good song that is a couple years old will be nominated,” Gruhn said. 

Another freshman at Peet, Greta Huhn, is in Spanish 2. “Locura de Marzo is a great way to see Spanish culture through music. I’m glad they do it because it’s a good brain break, but is still educational,” Huhn said. 

Students participate by filling out a bracket after watching the preview video of the music videos before the competition starts. As the competition progresses they continue to follow along each day by watching the videos and voting online for the song they liked best. 

Gruhn said, “Often there are over 100 songs nominated, and then he has teachers vote, and the top 16 vote getters make it into the tournament. Teachers are careful to select only songs with school appropriate lyrics and videos.” 

Freshman Kyle Beckner is in Spanish 1 and said, “Locura de Marzo was really cool because people from all over the world could participate. My bracket was pretty close to the actual winning results.” 

The winning song was A Contracorriente by Alvaro Solver and David Bisbal. The song means “counterflow” and has a very positive and uplifting vibe. 

According to Gruhn, the engaging experience affects both the students and teachers. “I love Locura de Marzo! I think it’s a win-win. Students get excited about it, teachers get excited about it and it has a lot of value in and out of the classroom. Music is a great way to actively engage with language and culture- and a great way for people to connect with each other.”

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