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Mariachi Specialization – A Degree in Music

Mariachi music has been around since the early 1800s starting to emerge from West-Central Mexico. Since then audiences from around the world have enjoyed the folk-derived music that has become a symbol of Mexican music and culture. The popularity of this music continues to grow, and so does the demand for mariachi musicians. Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California offers a degree in music that specializes in mariachi music.  From novice to professional students are learning about the history, instruments, and professional opportunities this cultural classic music can bring.


Jeff Nevin – Professor of Music & Director of Mariachi Activities – Southwestern College  (00:08) So Southwestern College the name of the mariachi is Mariachi Garibaldi, is the performing group that we have, we’ve actually had as many as four different ensembles. So four different classes beginning intermediate, intermediate advanced, and the advanced group is outstanding.

JN (00:30) We got that associate’s degree in music with a mariachi specialization approved in 2004. And that was the first in the world anywhere, it’s not a degree in mariachi music it’s a degree in music, with a specialty specialization in mariachi.

Shelle Blue – Mariachi Garibaldi – Southwestern College (00:53) You take the beginning courses of a whether it’s a voice, violin, trumpet guitar be vihuela, guitarron, and then you go through the intermediate class and then you go through the advanced classes, and then you learn about the history of mariachi.

JN (01:13) We need to have students who want to come and get the mariachi degree, they have to be able to take lessons on all of those instruments so that they can improve their personal technique, and they have to play in the ensemble.

Jose Andrade – Mariachi Garibaldi – Southwestern College (01:26) What I love the most with performing to an audience is just when you perform a song, like well, like you can see it in the faces of the people that they really enjoy it and like they’re very familiar with the music.

Angela Lopez – Mariachi Garibaldi -Southwestern College (01:38)  I just love when the audience gets engaged. It’s pretty fun. I don’t know, I just I just love how they’re all happy. And they’re really like, enthused about our performances and when they clap and when they’re happy.

SB  (01:55) The ensemble is great. I mean, it ranges anywhere from 30 to 50, sometimes 60 members every semester, it’s fantastic.

JN (02:03) The point of the degree is that I am actually training people to become professionals. The second track is to finish your degree transfer to get a four-year degree to get a bachelor’s degree in music.

 JA (02:19) So it gives mariachi music, the respect that it kind of deserves because it’s not really common for schools or colleges to kind of like support these type of programs or the folklore in the music. So I really liked that. It’s been treated as an equal with like orchestra and like jazz.

SB (02:39) It’s just a good feel music that there’s so much tradition behind it. And if you grew up with it, you’ve heard the songs a million times. It’s just a wonderful feeling and it brings back many many memories.