High Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools in the South Bay of San Diego County as well as across California and the entire US-Mexico border region are in dire need of qualified mariachi educators. In the last 5 years in San Diego County, following pressure from the community and school board members and administration, at least 15 schools have begun mariachi programs only to find that fully-qualified teachers are extremely rare. There exist a great number of “traditionally-educated” music teachers who have little or no understanding of mariachi music, quite a few mariachi musicians who have never received college degrees, but very few credentialed music teachers who also have a background in mariachi music. As an illustration of this need both nationally and locally, Sweetwater Union High School District sent representatives to Washington State, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and all over California looking for 3 mariachi teachers to each split full-time teaching assignments between 2 schools for the school years 2001-2002 and beyond. They hired one college-educated mariachi teacher from Washington State and 2 High School-educated, life-long mariachi musicians—none of whom had a California teaching credential. The need for fully-qualified mariachi teachers here in Southern California as well as across the country has been described as “drastic” by one Professor of Ethnomusicology and mariachi educator. The proposed degree specialization would help to attract young mariachi musicians to higher education and propel them into careers as mariachi educators, while the proposed Certificate of Achievement would allow current teachers to receive the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful teachers of mariachi music, and the certification to prove it.
The professional mariachi job market is similarly in need of this degree and certificate. Most mariachi musicians were educated informally by family members or friends who themselves never received a complete music education. These players usually acquire a command of mariachi repertoire and style but rarely have a complementary command of instrumental or vocal technique, music literacy, music theory and mariachi history. A mariachi degree program, someplace that can turn out well-educated and well-rounded mariachi performers, has been described as “long overdue” by Jose Hernandez, one of the top mariachi band-leaders in the world.
Graduates receiving the degree specialization and/or Certificate of Achievement will be in great demand locally as well as across the country.