Marching Mariachi coming to Palo Alto College
July 23, 2019
At Palo Alto College, students have the opportunity to study a wide range of artistic, musical, and theatrical arts. The variety of programs offered is what keeps the students' learning experiences unique and interesting, which allows our first-rate faculty to push the boundaries while establishing the college as a cultural beacon for the fine and performing arts.
One of those faculty members is two-time Grammy winner Juan Ortiz, founder of the Juan Ortiz Mariachi Academy. Through his academy, Ortiz teaches students the basics of mariachi, while simultaneously keeping them engaged in their studies and focused on completing their education.
"When I came to Palo Alto College, I told the president 'if you need someone to compete and showcase and just perform, then I'm not the person for this job,'" said Ortiz. "'If you want something that the students can relate to and can use as an education to continue and pursue their associate's degree, their bachelor's degree, then I'm the person for you.'"
Ortiz hopes students will keep the mariachi culture alive after learning about the history and impact of the art form through his teaching.
"It was coming to a point where mariachi culture was dying. People were no longer playing the mariachi standards," said Ortiz. "The best way to keep it going is by doing it with the kids. If you want to start a new program, do it with the children."
In the fall 2019 semester, Palo Alto College will be using Ortiz's mariachi expertise to start its first-ever marching mariachi band. It will have all the elements of a standard marching band with an added mariachi twist.
"Dr. Garza has a vision of creating something so unique, and no other school has it on paper as a marching mariachi band," said Ortiz. "It's tremendously exciting because we're at the forefront. We're going to be the first marching mariachi band in the nation, and from what I can gather, the first in the world."
For students, the marching mariachi adds another element to the diverse programs and extracurricular activities offered at the College. Joshua Miller, a drama student at the College, used to march on his high school drumline and said he was excited to hear of the new opportunity.
"Now that we're having [marching band] at PAC, that's incredible," said Miller. "I saw the email and I was really excited about it. It brought back a bunch of memories and old feelings."
Musicians, dancers, vocalists, and performers in all fields of study are invited to try out for the marching mariachi. This gives them an opportunity to get a taste of all the opportunities that the College has to offer, an outlet to showcase their talents, while also giving them a chance to meet their classmates.
Tryouts for the marching mariachi are taking place on Wednesday, July 24. Recent high school graduates, as well as current and future Palo Alto College students are encouraged to sign-up. To register or to learn more about the group, please visit the marching mariachi event page.