6065 Mariachi Pedagogy: Beginning Song Styles

Schools and districts with a growing Latino demographic have found great success in engaging students, parents and local communities by implementing standards-based, traditional mariachi programs. Mariachi programs can be implemented in a very short span of time and subsequently involve many more students in a school’s comprehensive music program. Famed Grammy-nominated recording artist José Hernández, director of the world-renowned Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Marcia Neel, former supervisor of the nation’s largest mariachi education program in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, NV, and Erik Ramirez, award-winning mariachi instructor in the Clark County School District, team up for this exciting, hands-on workshop that demonstrates how easily music programs can be expanded through this rich musical tradition. 

Sample materials will be provided for presenting concepts to district administrators, principals, parents and fellow educators. Resources include curriculum documents; beginner-level musical arrangements for the various mariachi song forms; recordings; historical material; and information on procuring instruments, uniforms and clinicians. Students are requested to bring their own primary instrument as well as a guitar, vihuela, and/or guitarrón, if available.


Instructors: Marcia Neel, José Hernández & Erik Ramierez


A veteran of 36 years in public school music education, Marcia Neel has directed successful secondary music programs in Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Nevada. She served as the Supervisor of the Secondary Music Education Program of the Clark County School District (CCSD), headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, from 1994 through 2007. During the course of those years, she led the Secondary Music Education Program to a total class count of over 50,000 in 56 middle and 38 high school music programs and over 100,000 in Secondary Fine and Performing Arts overall. Her greatest pride was in knowing that all of the students in each of the district’s secondary schools were provided with an equal opportunity to study music. In conjunction with the National Association of School Boards, VH1 and NAMM awarded the National Distinguished Service to Music Education Award to the CCSD Board of School Trustees in 2007.  The district employs over 500 elementary and secondary music educators. 


Well-known for her commitment to program expansion and innovation, Marcia is recognized as a leader among her peers for her creative approaches to curriculum design and implementation. One of the most successful is the CCSD’s standards-based Mariachi Program which was instituted in 2002 with four (4) instructors teaching 250 students and is now staffed by nineteen (19) full-time, licensed mariachi educators teaching over 3,000 students. Marcia is the lead author of ¡Simplemente Mariachi!, an instrumental and vocal method series for mariachi students and educators. Over the years, she has become a leader in assessment-driven curriculum for mariachi education. As a result of her National Mariachi Workshops for Educators® held annually in Las Vegas, she has been instrumental in starting or developing over 100 mariachi programs across the nation.

Marcia is an ardent Music Education advocate at the local, state, and national levels. She serves on the Steering Committee, the MENC National Advocacy Committee, and as a member of the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium. She has authored and edited an array of articles and publications for NAfME, the National Association for Music Education, School Band and Orchestra (SBO) Magazine, Strings Magazine, Parent Magazine and Leadership Magazine. Marcia and her husband, Keith, are honored to serve as Music Ambassadors to The Ohio State University School of Music. 

Marcia serves as Educational Advisor to The Music Achievement Council, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation whose main focus is professional development for educators to reach and serve more music students. Her busy schedule has her providing motivating workshops all across the country for educators who are looking to find ways to sharpen their teaching skills thus helping their own students achieve at a higher level. 

Elected to numerous leadership positions, Marcia has served as Western Division President of MENC; President of the Nevada Music Educators Association (two separate terms); and President of the Nevada Choral Directors Association.  She was appointed by two Nevada governors to sit on the Goals 2000 Panel and in that capacity, co-chaired the team responsible for the writing of Nevada's Content Standards in Arts Education. In 1993, The Disney Channel selected Marcia as their National Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Marcia is president of Music Education Consultants, Inc., a consortium of music education professionals working with a variety of educational organizations, arts associations, and school districts to foster the growth and breadth of school-based music education programs for all children.  Among others, specialty areas include curriculum development and expansion, professional development, teacher induction programs, and the providing of conductors and adjudicators for honor ensembles and music festivals.


Jose Hernandez and his Mariachi Sol de Mexico® have a biography and history as rich and colorful as mariachi music itself. A proud fifth generation mariachi musician, Maestro Hernandez’ roots trace back to 1879 to the birthplace of mariachi – Jalisco, Mexico. Ever since he founded Mariachi Sol de Mexico® in 1981, Jose has gone on to break countless barriers in the world of mariachi music and is now recognized as having turned the genre into the international sensation it is today.

An accomplished trumpet virtuoso and graduate of the Grove School of Music, Jose is the first mariachi musician to have arranged, composed and conducted for numerous international symphony orchestras. His platinum-selling Sol de Mexico® became the first mariachi ensemble to be nominated three times for a Grammy – most recently on September 25th for his new symphonic CD, “La Música” with Mariachi Sol de Mexico and the Sinfonica Nacional de Las Americas. He is also being recognized for his work on Vikki Carr’s new CD, “Viva la Vida.” Not only did Jose co-produce the album and provide all of the accompaniment with “Sol de Mexico,”  he also composed one of the selections for this album, “Ay Amor De Mis Amores,”  “Sol” continues to travel the world as Ambassadors of Mariachi Music having performed to sold-out venues through the world including Spain, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Mexico, China and North Korea. Hernandez has performed for five US Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Hispanic Magazine has recognized him as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Latinos in America.

Jose is especially proud of his work in education and is committed to working with young musicians to guide them along the way. He has collaborated with school districts throughout the country to assist them in building standards-based mariachi programs and has developed a full line of mariachi instruments for West Music Company. As a Conn-Selmer Performing Artist, Jose is solely responsible for developing the new, highly acclaimed and ground-breaking Bach Stradivarius LR19043B Trumpet which was premiered at the NAMM Show in January of 2013.

Over the past year, Hernandez has also been collaborating with Hal Leonard Coporation which just released five of his arrangements including CIELITO LINDO, EL SON DE LA NEGRA, MARIETA, ME HE DE COMER ESA TUNA and POR UN AMOR. These authentic arrangements were inspired by Jose’s desire to provide appropriate selections for school ensembles that would focus on authentic performance style.

It has been well documented that Jose Hernandez and Mariachi Sol de Mexico® are an irrefutable institution within the mariachi genre. They continue to leave an undeniable legacy through their recordings as well as their contributions to the film industry including performances in Seabiscuit, Old Gringo, American Me, Don Juan de Marco, A Million to Juan, Glory Road, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Rango.

Maestro Jose Hernandez is not only responsible for setting a new standard for all mariachi ensembles today, but also for immortalizing this wonderful, passionate music across the world.


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Course Information

6065 Mariachi Pedagogy: Begninng Song Styles

3 graduate credits
Location: TBA

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Tuition: $930 (includes $75 resource fee)
A $75 deposit is required at time of registration. Tuition balance is due in full by the first day of class.

July 13 - 17
Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

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