Cristina Ceja

Orchestral Musician/ Masters in Viola Solo Performance

from the Hochschüle für Musik und Tanz, Köln,

Rhythmo gave me my first initial experience with music.  Not only was it the first place where I was able to learn and play the violin, but it also gave me my first ensemble experience where I learned at an early age, the importance of  listening, playing, and singing together in a group.  As an active performer today, I am especially grateful for the performance experience that I received from Rhythmo Mariachi Academy, which showed me the importance of having great energy and stage presence in every concert i give.

The one quote that still sticks to me today is from Tio Gaby, (Maestro Zavala).  I was just getting started and could barely  hold the violin, but the principal direction that Tio Gaby gave me was, “Listen and watch.”  Thats all it really took, yet I am still learning that today.

I think that programs like Rhytmo are very important because it makes music accessible to all.  It encourages the youth as well as adults to appreciate and value culture, art and music. It gives anyone  the experience of creating something beautiful and  rich, while sharing it with the a wide range of audiences.



Kenya Garay

  UCLA Undergraduate Student of Ethnomusicology

I first heard of RHYTHMO through my mom in May of 2003.  She read an article about the program in the OC Register and asked if I wanted to join and play violin in RHYTHMO as well as being part of my middle school orchestra.  I gladly accepted not knowing I was going to stick with mariachi music for the rest of my life.

With the RHYTHMO Mariachi Academy, I now view mariachi music in a different mindset.  Mariachi music used to be just music my parents listened to from time to time.  Now it is practically the only music I play when I’m in my car.  Today, I expanded that passion into not only exploring more into the mariachi genre, but I am studying more about music of other cultures with my Ethnomusicology classes at UCLA.

I think the best experience I’ve ever had in the time I was with RHYTHMO was when I went to the Tucson International Mariachi Conference for the first time.  It opened my eyes to believing that there are youth out there in the United States that do exactly what I do.  Coming from a predominately Asian and White community, I was never exposed to sharing a common culture with anyone.  When I was at this conference I felt so connected with everyone there and loved that first networking experience and meeting new people.

It is important for programs like RHYTHMO to exist for the purpose of passing traditions on to younger generations.  It is also important because society needs to be informed that the United States is a melting pot and people come from all different backgrounds.  This is the reason why mariachi ensembles do not just exist in Mexico, they exist all over the world (even Japan!).