Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP)
Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando showcases the talents of advanced students from the award winning and nationally recognized arts-in-education program, the City of San Fernando Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP). A project created in 2000 in collaboration with the late Señor Natividad “Nati” Cano, founder of the world renowned Mariachi Los Camperos and the City of San Fernando Recreation and Community Services Department, began as an experiment and has developed into an award winning program. The program distinguishes itself due to the quality of instruction provided by members of Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano that includes: Grammy Award-winning musical director, Jesus Guzman, Sergio Alonso, Jimmy Cuéllar, Juan Jiménez, and Ernesto Lazaro. Even after his passing, Mr. Cano is still recognized as the single-most important figure in the dissemination of mariachi music in the United States.
MMAP unites young students with master musicians in the communities of the north-east San Fernando Valley to study the popular and traditional Mexican art forms. Through the study of culturally-relevant musical traditions, young people are discovering a sense of pride in the heritage of their families and developing positive self-identities. As young folk artists, they contribute to the underserved communities they live in by preserving and disseminating the traditional arts. The results are important because our youth are provided the skill-sets and real-life experiences needed for success as future leaders and also allows them to develop a better understanding and respect for all people within our culturally diverse society.
On November 19, 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama presented MMAP with the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the Nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. Receiving this award at the White House is testament to the hard work, dedication, and commitment of all of the students, parents, and community arts advocates who provided support and believed in the program.
First awarded in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), and is presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
More recently in 2018, MMAP was invited as 1 of 10 mariachi programs to compete at the California State Fair, where they were awarded with 1st place at the Inaugural Mariachi Proud Competition. The program was given well deserved acknowledgement and rewarded our youth with a special, on-stage performance with “Mariachi Vargas.” This set a new standard of excellence at the state level that earned special recognition by the San Fernando City Council and Los Angeles City Council.
The MMAP is proud to be supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, and the City of San Fernando.
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and its cultural partners- the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services chose to recognize MMAP as one of 12 exceptional programs across the country for their work in presenting rich arts and humanities learning opportunities to young people. From small towns to big cities, the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalists reflected the diversity of disciplines and settings of these wonderful programs that are taking place from coast to coast.
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The City of San Fernando, in partnership with several local institutions, brings an unprecedented project of professional mentorship, musical enrichment, and cultural expression to its community. In 2001, with the collaborated efforts of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Ballet Folklorico Ollin, the California State University, Northridge Department of Chicano Studies, and La Voz del Mariachi, San Fernando welcomed the inspiration of world-renowned mariachi pioneer, Nati Cano, and his Mariachi Los Camperos to develop the Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP).
This program continues to unite world-class mariachi masters with community youth who are ready to advance their skills as mariachi musicians. Weekly sessions provide professional instrumental technique development, vocal coaching, music theory education, and performance etiquette, while enhancing repertoire that emphasizes the traditional and popular mariachi music forms, including sones, rancheras, huapangos, boleros, and polkas. Training focuses on the core of musical instruments traditional to the mariachi folk ensemble: guitarrón, vihuela, guitar, harp, violin, and trumpet.
Through the MMAP, the City of San Fernando aims to carry-on the mariachi tradition by targeting promising youth that strive for musical excellence. The program is designed to transcend the basics, shaping ambitious youth who have the potential to become masters in their own right. MMAP’s vision is that these apprentices may then serve to further develop this valuable musical tradition in the San Fernando community and beyond.
1. Develop, reinforce, and apply technical skills. Instrument technique development will focus on:
- Correcting and solidifying proper form (2.4, 2.5).
- Rhythmic and melodic accuracy (2.4, 2.5).
- Tone quality, articulation, and projection (2.4, 2.5).
- Stylistic expression (2.4, 2.5).
2. Acquire, strengthen, and apply musicianship skills. Music theory education will include:
- Solfeggio, nomenclature, and identification (English and Spanish) (1.3).
- Major and minor (natural, melodic, and harmonic) scales and keys (1.3).
- Major, minor, augmented, and diminished intervals and chords (1.3).
- Common chord progressions (1.3).
- Simple and compound meters (1.3).
- Sight-reading (1.3).
- Simple harmonization, transposition, and improvisation (1.3, 2.8).
3. Enhance solo and chorus singing skills. Vocal instruction will emphasize:
- Breathing technique (2.1, 2.2, 2.3).
- Support, projection, and tone quality (2.1, 2.2, 2.3).
- Rhythmic and melodic accuracy (2.1, 2.2, 2.3).
- Stylistic expression (2.1, 2.2, 2.3).
4. Perform mariachi music. Traditional, culturally diverse, and context-appropriate repertoire development will focus on:
- Traditional and popular Mexican forms (i.e, son, ranchera, huapango, bolero, and polka) (3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8).
- International forms (i.e., classical and joropo) (3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8).
- Stylistic interpretation (3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8).
5. Demonstrate Professionalism. Performance etiquette development will emphasize:
- Stage presence and projection (2.4, 2.5, 3.4).
- Stage motion and maneuvering (2.4, 2.5, 3.4).
- Microphone placement and manipulation (2.4, 2.5, 3.4).
- Professional appearance (2.4, 2.5, 3.4).
ADDITIONALLY, MMAP STUDENTS WILL:
- Perform publicly as the ambassador mariachi representing the City of San Fernando. (2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.8).
- Demonstrate self-confidence, pride, and identity, while providing an outlet for cultural expression in celebration of Mexican heritage (3.3, 4.2, 4.3).
- Identify the factors related to the pursuit of professional careers in music (5.3).
The highly respected Natividad “Nati” Cano, will be remembered as a pioneer and leader of the Mariachi Renaissance and founder and director of the world renowned, Mariachi Los Camperos. He is credited for taking mariachi from the streets to prestigious concert halls throughout the United States. From the White House, where he performed before President and Mrs. Clinton, to Guadalajara’s Teatro Degollado, where he performed before President and Mrs. Zedillo, to Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, to Oslo Norway, to San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater, Nati Cano’s dream of taking this musical folk tradition to the mainstream is being realized.
Nati’s achievements have been acclaimed both in the United States, where he has been awarded the National Endowment for the Art’s National Heritage Fellowship and in Mexico, receiving the coveted Silvestre Vargas Award for Artistic Excellence. No other Mexican folk artist has been honored with such distinguished recognition on both sides of the border. Mr. Cano was active as a lecturer, advisor, and performer at the Tucson International Mariachi Conference for decades and served as a lecturer for the Department of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His ensemble appeared on the PBS television special, “Americanos,” filmed at the Kennedy Center alongside some of today’s most popular Latin American recording artists, including Gloria Estefan, Jose Feliciano, and Juan Luis Guerra. Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano was awarded a Grammy for 2009 Best Regional Mexican Album, Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas.
Mariachi Los Camperos is celebrating over 50 years featuring the finest musicians from the US and Mexico. Los Camperos is noted for demanding musical arrangements highlighting both individual musical skills and voices. The ensemble has since grown in prominence and gained international recognition. Los Camperos collaborated on Linda Ronstadt’s album, Canciones de Mi Padre and Mas Canciones. The ensemble has recorded 12 albums including: Puro Mariachi (Indigo Records, 1961); North of the Border (RCA/Carino Records, 1965); El Super Mariachi, Los Camperos (Latin International, 1968); Valses de Amor (La Fonda Records, 1973); Canciones de Siempre (PolyGram Latino, 1993); Sounds of Mariachi (Delfin Records, 1996); Fiesta Navidad (Delfin Records, 1997); Viva El Mariachi (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2002); Llegaron Los Camperos (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2005.); Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas (Smithsonian Folkways records, 2008); Recuerdo de Mi Vida (Symphony Orchestra of Queretaro, 2009).
The ensemble participated in the National Council for the Traditional Arts, “Masters of Mexican Music” tour with Mexico’s most renowned traditional folk music artists. Los Camperos were featured on the 2005 Grammy Award-winning album, cELLAbration: A Tribute to Ella Jenkins, and received a Grammy nomination in 2006 for “Best Mexican Album,” Llegaron Los Camperos: Concert Favorites of Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos. Los Camperos received the 2009 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Mexican Album,” Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas. Most recently, Mariachi Los Camperos were nominated for the 58th 2016 Grammy Awards for their album, “Tradiciõn, Arte y Pasiõn, produced by Smithsonian Folkways.
Widely recognized as arranger, director, instructor, and musician in the genre of Mexican mariachi music, Jesus “Chuy” Guzman is the musical director of Mariachi Los Camperos De Nati Cano. He is master of numerous traditional mariachi instruments: trumpet, vihuela, guitarron, guitar, and violin. For over 20 years, Mr. Guzman has served as head instructor for numerous international mariachi festivals in the US and Mexico and continues to instruct the Ethnomusicology 91K, Music of Mexico, at the UCLA. Career highlights include collaboration on the orchestration/musical arrangements for the Symphony Orchestra of Jalisco and guest recording with the most prestigious mariachi in the world, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. Chuy toured and recorded with Linda Ronstadt on her Grammy Award-winning album, Canciones de mi Padre, and has appeared in several Hollywood motion pictures, including “Mi Familia,” starring Jimmy Smitts and Edward James Olmos, “Jerry Maguire,” starring Tom Cruise, and “Sex in the City” starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Mr. Guzman’s production for Mariachi Los Camperos titled Llegaron Los Camperos was nominated in 2006 for a Grammy Award under the Mexican-American category and his arrangement, Fiesta de Niños for Los Camperos was awarded a Grammy in 2005 as part of the album, cELLAbration: A Tribute to Ella Jenkins. His production for Mariachi Los Camperos, Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas was awarded a Grammy for 2009 “Best Regional Mexican Album.” Recently , Mr. Guzman collaborated with Ry Cooder / The Chieftains on the 2010 release of San Patricio. Most recently, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano was nominated for the 58th 2016 Grammy Awards for their album, “Tradiciõn, Arte y Pasiõn, produced by Smithsonian Folkways.
A leading performer of the rarest of mariachi instruments, Sergio “Checo” Alonso is the harpist with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. He has performed with many of the most recognized Latin American recording artists including: Caetano Veloso, Carlos Santana, Juan Gabriel, Aida Cuevas, Angeles Ochoa, Pedro Fernandez, and Lila Downs. In addition to performing with traditional Mexican artists, Checo has toured and/or recorded with various groups (Los Lobos, Ozomatli, Little Feat, and The Los Angeles Master Chorale, and The Chieftains) and has worked on several Hollywood films, including “Price of Glory,” starring Jimmy Smits, “Man on Fire” and “Déjà Vu” starring Denzel Washington, and “Walkout,” directed by Edward James Olmos. Checo’s honors and awards include being a featured artist on the 2005 Grammy Award-winning album,cELLAbration: A Tribute to Ella Jenkins, the 2006 Grammy Nominated album for “Best Mexican Album,” Llegaron Los Camperos: Concert Favorites of Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos, and the 2009 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Mexican Album,” Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas. Mr. Alonso teaches multicultural music at San Fernando High School and has served on the National Association of Music Educators (MENC) Mariachi Advisory Committee. MENC: The National Association for Music Education is the world’s largest arts education organization whose primary goal is to address all aspects of music education. Most recently, he released his solo debut album “Lluvia de Cuerdas,” under his private label, Huitzil Music. Sergio received his Bachelor’s degree in Ethnomusicology from UCLA’s School of the Arts and Master’s degree in Education. In 2006, Checo was awarded the Master Musician Fellowship by the Durfee Foundation. Most recently, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano was nominated for the 58th 2016 Grammy Awards for their album, “Tradiciõn, Arte y Pasiõn, produced by Smithsonian Folkways.
Composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist, Jaime Cuellar (Jimmy), is the former violin, guitarron, vihuela, guitar, and guitarra de golpe performer for Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. Mr. Cuellar is now the musical director of Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar. Jimmy has accompanied Latin recording artists: Yolanda del Rio, Mercedes Castro, Humberto Herrera, Lila Downs, Vikki Carr, Aida Cuevas, Eugenia Leon, and Jose Feliciano. Mr. Cuellar has recorded on various productions, including the 2010 release of Ry Cooder and The Chieftains, San Patricio. His honors and awards include: featured artist on the 2005 Grammy Award-winning album, cELLAbration: A Tribute to Ella Jenkins, the 2006 Grammy Nominated album “Best Mexican Album,”Llegaron Los Camperos: Concert Favorites of Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos, the 2008 Grammy Award-winning album for “Best Mexican Album,” Cien Por Ciento Mexicano by Pepe Aguilar, and the 2009 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Mexican Album,” Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas. It was an honor for Jimmy to be the sound engineer as well as recording artist on Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano’s album Tradición, Arte y Pasión, that is nominated for the 2016 Grammy, “Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano).” Mr. Cuellar received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University, Long Beach Bob Cole Conservatory of Music in 2009 and receiving his Masters in Composition from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Juan is widely considered one of today’s finest guitarron players as a member of Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. He has accompanied and/or recorded for numerous Mexican recording artists including: Linda Ronstadt, Vikki Carr, Pepe Aguilar, Pedro Fernandez, Lila Downs, and Eugenia Leon. Mr. Jimenez and has appeared on various Hollywood motion pictures including: “A Walk in the Clouds,” starring Keanu Reeves, “Sex in the City,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker, “Fiesta Mexicana,” and the PBS special narrated by Vikki Carr. Juan was a featured artist on the 2006 Grammy Nominated album for “Best Mexican Album,” Llegaron Los Camperos: Concert Favorites of Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos, the 2008 Grammy Award-winning album for “Best Mexican Album,” 100% Mexicano by Pepe Aguilar, and the 2009 Grammy Award-winning album for “Best Regional Mexican Album,” Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas by Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. Most recently, Mr. Jimenez was a featured artist on Ry Cooder and The Chieftains 2010 release of San Patricio. Most recently, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano was nominated for the 58th 2016 Grammy Awards for their album, “Tradiciõn, Arte y Pasiõn, produced by Smithsonian Folkways.
Violinist and vocalist, Ernesto Lazaro is the youngest member of Mariachi Los Camperos. Ernesto began his mariachi education as the lead violinist for Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando where he had the honor of receiving the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on behalf of the City of San Fernando, Mariachi Master Apprentice Program. He began his professional career with Mariachi Garibaldi where he accompanied various recording artists, including Pedro Fernandez, Paquita La Del Barrio, Pablo Montero and Ana Barbara. As a member of Camperos, he collaborated with the New York City Opera on “Cruzar La Cara de La Luna,” the world’s first mariachi opera.
San Fernando Middle School, Music Department
130 N. Brand Boulevard, San Fernando, CA 91340
Interested applicants may contact the Virginia Diediker, Cultural Arts Supervisor and Program Director in the Recreation and Community Services Department, for an assessment date or for any questions or concerns:
- By Phone: (818) 898-1290
- By Mail: MMAP Student Assessment
Recreation and Community Services Department
208 Park Avenue, San Fernando, CA 91340
To be eligible, applicants should meet the following criteria:
- Applicants should be between 9 and 18 years of age.
- Applicants should have at least 2 years of musical experience and demonstrate an intermediate level of musicianship. (Inquire regarding MMAP beginning music program)
- Applicants will be assessed on one of the traditional mariachi instruments. They are to bring their own instruments and arrive early so that they may have time to prepare.
- Student assessments will last approximately 7-10 minutes. Applicants will participate in an interview, where they will be required to:
- Perform major scales,
- Sight read,
- Perform a musical excerpt of their choice, and
- Take a written exam on basic musicianship.
208 Park Avenue, San Fernando, CA 91340
(818) 898-1290 | VDiediker@sfcity.org