With a talented group of performers, combined with the direction of Latin Ensemble/Classical Guitar director Juan Carlos Cavazos, SMHS has the distinction of featuring a Mariachi band in the school’s music program.
Having taught at the high school for 16 years, Cavazos has had a front row seat to see the program’s development.
“It’s tremendously rewarding to see how far it’s come,” said Cavazos. “Back when I first started here, if you had told me there would be 100 classical guitar players and 40 Mariachis, I would’ve said you’re nuts. To see what it has become over the last six years is absolutely wonderful.”
The program had humble beginnings.
“We started Mariachi with one student, just one kid,” Cavazos said. “Initially, it was just her and I in the orchestra room, learning how to play vihuela or the guitar. From that kid, growing to 140, it’s incredibly satisfying.”
Dating back to when he was teaching at Eagle Pass High School in 1996, Cavazos hasn’t just seen Mariachi reach new heights at San Marcos, but in high schools throughout the state of Texas.
Considering it’s now a UIL event in band competition, San Marcos Mariachi has become one of the premier ensembles in Texas, having advanced to the State Championship in 2022.
The appreciation for the music is clearly prevalent among his students. But, what else is Cavazos teaching?
“I want to instill how to be passionate about something and work for it,” he said. “My goal is to inspire my students to figure out how to reach their own goals by understanding the processes they need to take to do so. So many directors will teach that same thing, how to be decent human beings but with different mediums. Some people use football, some use home economics, I use Mariachi and guitar.”
In addition, Cavazos has the pleasure of knowing that the devotion for Mariachi doesn’t end when his students exit the stage at San Marcos.
“Even though the program is still fairly young, a lot of the students I teach do keep playing after they graduate,” said Cavazos. “For example, Harvard Mariachi is run by a former graduate. There’s another former graduate at NYU who is looking to start one there. Some of the kids that graduate look to perform at their respective universities, and there are some of my current students who are starting to play with their family groups out in the community. I’m all about that.”
Mariachi has become a movement at San Marcos and it seems to only be gaining momentum.