tel. (818) 898-1200      117 Macneil Street, San Fernando, CA 91340

Mother's Day Virtual Concert "Serenata a las Madres"

Mariachi Master Apprentice Program “Serenata a las Madres” Virtual Concert on May 13, 2021.

The Show Must Go On....

Uncertain times call for creative measures and the City’s Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP) answered that call during COVID-19. Under the direction of master instructor Sergio Alonso, the participants were able to continue with the program via Zoom breakout sessions. To commemorate 20 years of talent, tradition and success, the instructors and participants of the program prepared an amazing set for the City’s first ever virtual Mariachi Concert.


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. These Grammy Award-winning musicians include: Los Camperos musical director Jesus Guzman, Sergio Alonso, Mario Hernandez Molina and Ernesto Lazaro. Even after his passing, the late 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 music 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.

MMAP’s presence in our community has resulted in an increase in the number of high school graduates and students pursuing higher education. Over the last decade, the graduation rate of MMAP students has remained 100%. This figure is especially notable considering that last year; the statewide graduation rate of California was close to 84%, the district wide graduation rate of the Los Angeles Unified School District was 84%, and within our local school district, one of the most underrepresented and underperforming areas of Los Angeles, 79%. Many MMAP students continue to pursue higher education and have attended some of the most prestigious universities in the nation, including MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, US Santa Barbara, LMU, Cal State Northridge and UCLA.  

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). 


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.


Mariachi Master Apprentice Program receiving National Arts and Humanities Youth Program AwardThe City of San Fernando Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP) is a recipient of the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the highest honor awarded to such programs in the United States. Chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists, the City of San Fernando Mariachi Master Apprentice Program received the award in a ceremony at the White House.  The ceremony included a live performance by eight youth musicians from the program.

Mariachi Master Apprentice Program performing at White HouseThe 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. 

For more information, click here.  


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, the late 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 eager 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 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 master musicians. MMAP’s vision is that these apprentices may then serve to further develop this valuable musical genre 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).


  • 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).


Interested applicants may contact the San Fernando Recreation and Community Services Department, for any questions or concerns:

  • By Phone:  (818) 898-1290
  • By Mail:  Mariachi Master Apprentice Program – Recreation and Community Services Department, 208 Park Avenue, San Fernando, CA 91340


Natividad “Nati” CanoNatividad “Nati” Cano, July 23, 1933 – October 3, 2014

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.


Jesus Guzman, Lead Artist Instructor 

Widely recognized as arranger, instructor, and multi-instrumentalist, Jesus “Chuy” Guzman is the director of Mariachi Los Camperos, formerly bearing the name of its founder, Nati Cano and now under his tutelage as Mariachi Los Camperos de Jesus “Chuy” Guzman. For over 30 years, Mr. Guzman has served as head instructor for numerous international mariachi festivals in the United States and Mexico and instructs the Ethnomusicology 91K, Music of Mexico course at the University of California, Los Angeles. Guzman collaborated with Linda Ronstadt on her Grammy Award-winning album and subsequent tour of 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. Guzman’s career highlights include collaborations with various Symphony Orchestras and Operas, including the Orquesta Filarmonia de Jalisco and the New York City Opera. Guzman’s honors and awards include Grammy Nominations for his productions, Llegaron Los Camperos and Tradicion Arte, y Pasion, and Grammy Awards for Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas and De Ayer Para Siempre.

Jesus Guzman
Sergio Alonso, Artist Instructor

Educator, ethnomusicologist, and multi-instrumentalist, Sergio “Checo” Alonso is a committed advocate for the preservation and dissemination of traditional Mexican music. A graduate of UCLA’s Department of Ethnomusicology and a 27-year member of the world-renowned, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, Alonso has performed in many of the most prestigious concert halls throughout North America and has worked with some of today’s most revered Latin music recording artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Jose Feliciano, Vikki Carr, Carlos Santana, Caetano Veloso, Lila Downs, Aida Cuevas, Pepe Aguilar, and Alejandro Fernando. His performance credits have also spanned across other music genres through tours and/or recordings with international artists such as The Chieftains, Los Lobos, Ozomatli, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the New York City Opera. 


As an educator, Alonso has dedicated his career in teaching the Mexican musical traditions in the community of San Fernando and throughout the United States. He served as the Cultural Arts Commissioner for the City of San Fernando and as a delegate on the National Association for Music Education’s (MENC) Mariachi Advisory Committee. Since 2001 Alonso has been an instructor for the award-winning and nationally recognized youth arts-in-education program, the City of San Fernando Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP).


A Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at Boston University, Alonso has written various articles on mariachi pedagogy, including “Teaching the Mariachi Harp” and “Preparing for a Performance” in Foundations of Mariachi Education: Materials, Methods, and Resources (Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2008), “Mariachi Master Apprentice Program: Familia during the COVD-19 Pandemic” in Places and Purposes of Popular Music Education: Perspectives for the Field (Intellect, 2022), and “Mariachi Ensemble Rehearsal Techniques” in Teaching Instrumental Music: Contemporary Perspectives and Pedagogies (Oxford University Press, 2023).


As a member of Mariachi Los Camperos, Alonso’s honors and awards include multiple Grammy Nominations (2005, 2016) and Grammy Awards (2004, 2008, 2019). Alonso also was bestowed a Durfee Foundation Master Musician Fellowship (2006) and for his work with MMAP, the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor given to youth arts and humanities programs bestowed by First Lady, Michelle Obama.


Alonso is a veteran music educator at San Fernando High School where he is also the musical director for the Mighty Tigers Marching Band and Mariachi Los Tigres de San Fernando.

Sergio Alonso
Mario Hernandez, Artist Instructor

Mr. Hernandez is the vihuela player for Mariachi Los Camperos. Recorded for Artists: Vicky Carr, José Feliciano, Lady Gaga, Ezequiel Peña and Jenny Rivera. Hollywood Motion Pictures include: “Rango” starring Isla Fisher, “When Billy Beat Bobby” starring Holly Hunter, and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” parts 1 and 2 with George Lopez. Formerly, Mario was the Guitarron player for Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández. He is a popular choice to instruct the vihuela and guitarrón workshops at the New Mexico Mariachi Spectacular Conference. Produced for Smithsonian Folkways, Mr. Hernandez with Mariachi Los Camperos received the 2019 Grammy Award for best Regional Mexican Album “De Ayer Para Siempre”.

Mario Hernandez
ERNESTO LAZARO, Artist Instructor

Mr. Lazaro is the artist instructor for MMAP for violin, armonia and vocals. 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. Produced for Smithsonian Folkways, Mr. Lazaro with Mariachi Los Camperos received the 2019 Grammy Award for best Regional Mexican Album “De Ayer Para Siempre”. 

Ernesto Lazaro


Los CamperosMariachi 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 15albums 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); Tradición, Arte, y Pasión (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2015); Movimiento (Kiubo Music, 2017); De Ayer Para Siempre (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2019); and Sones de Mariachi (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2024).”


Los CamperosThe 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. Mariachi Los Camperos were nominated for the 58th 2016 Grammy Awards for their album, “Tradiciõn, Arte y Pasiõn, produced by Smithsonian Folkways. Most recently, Mariachi Los Camperos for Smithsonian Folkways’ “De Ayer Para Siempre,” won the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Regional Mexican Album.


RECREATION PARK | Recreation & Community Services Department
208 Park Avenue, San Fernando, CA 91340
Maria Calleros, Executive Assistant
(818) 898-1290 |
Monday through Friday | 9 am to 5 pm


Vacant Recreation & Community Services Director (818) 898-1290
Linda Bowden-Moreno Administrative Assistant (818) 898-7349
Maria Calleros Executive Assistant (818) 898-7380


Juan Salas Community Services Supervisor (818) 898-1296
Patty Garcia Program Specialist (818) 361-7155
Marisol Diaz Recreation & Community Services Coordinator (818) 898-7341


Vacant Cultural Arts Supervisor (818) 361-7155


Maribel Perez Recreation Supervisor (818) 361-7156
Freddy Tapia Program Specialist (818) 898-7360


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