The strains of mariachi music filled the air at the University of San Diego late last week.
“We invited some of the best professional mariachis in the world to join us in teaching technique and history,” said the school’s Mariachi Ensemble director, Serafin Paredes.
The 10th annual Mariachi Conference on campus late last week included 400 students from San Diego and Ventura counties. They were also joined by young musicians from Nevada and Arizona.
Most of the participants are just getting started in music education or learning to play one of the instruments. They include the guitarrón, vihuela Mexicana, harp, guitar, violin and trumpet.
“It’s a big motivation for them,” Paredes said. “We want to see where they are starting with their limited knowledge of mariachi music and then they learn from the best.”
The University of San Diego
More than 400 students from San Diego and Ventura counties joined young musicians from Nevada and Arizona to learn techniques from masters of mariachi music, San Diego, Calif., March 10, 2023.
Following the mentoring and a full day of learning in workshops and collaborative groups, the students played in a showcase concert at USD’s Shiley Theatre on Friday.
“Some of these master mariachis have more than one Grammy Award, so they can provide these students with great memories along with mentorship,” Parades said.
Paredes established Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego in 2001 to have a place where his students could further their musical knowledge, continue their education after high school and connect with their culture through music.
Members have to maintain a certain grade-point average during high school to remain in good standing. They also can earn scholarships to help pay for their college expenses once they graduate from high school.
Mariachi singers practice at the 10th annual Mariachi Conference at USD
The organization is the first and only nonprofit mariachi group in San Diego County.
It inspired the USD conference held every year.