By: Fredwill Hernandez
Anaheim, Calif.(Hollywood Today)1/29/13/ -Part of the NAMM Foundation’s advocacy efforts brought Marcia M. Neel, President of Music Education Consultants, Inc. in order to explain the success she has had with the mariachi program she started in Clark County, Las Vegas and how she has become a school music program advocate all across the country advising other educators on what it takes to start and run a successful school mariachi music program.
“In 2004, at the first Mariachi Festival and Workshop, Mariachi Cobre came to work with the students from Clark County School District’s mariachi program, which started in 2002 with 250 students from our schools,” said Marcia M. Neel, Music Education Consultants, Inc. President, who at the time was the Schools District’s coordinator of fine arts who also taught Choir. “In 2012 Mariachi Cobre came back to celebrate our 10th Anniversary of the program which boasted 3000 students from 16 different middle schools and high schools.”
In 2002, Neel. the School District coordinator of secondary fine arts, recruited Mariachi Cobre alum Javier Trujillo, who ran a high school mariachi program in Tucson, Ariz., to start one in Clark County, Las Vegas.
Neel retired in 2007 to start a music program consulting business. Recently, she advised the Nashville school district, which is starting mariachi, hip-hop and bluegrass programs to better appeal to its students.
Besides the interview with Neel, Mary Luehrsen, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations who also serves as Executive Director, NAMM Foundation, invited Jose Hernandez who is the leader/ founder of Mariachi Sol De Mexico to perform and speak on his effort to promote and advocate for mariachi programs in schools. Luehrsen explained that Hernandez and Neel’s partnership is like a match made in heaven, since Hernandez brings his mariachi, singing, and playing expertise and Neel brings her experience in education, teaching and mariachi music program advocacy.
“In 1991 I started a non-profit called Mariachi Heritage Society who offered mariachi classes in after school programs and about a year ago I thought of broadening this effort in other counties besides Los Angeles and Orange County,” said Hernandez. “I contacted Neel and told her I wanted to do more of this, I see myself doing more of this teaching education type stuff all over the country. We since have started mariachi programs in Reno, NV and in Nashville, TN.”
Hernandez played his Bach Stradiverius signature trumpet and conducted Mariachi Sol De Mexico performance, the trumpet was also unveiled at this years NAMM. During the performance Hernandez surprised attendees by bringing his little nephew named Gabriel Zepeda who is six years old and explained he is the seventh generation of mariachi players in his family. Zepeda played the violin and won the crowd over with his ability, stage presence, and charisma.
Photography: Fredwill Hernandez