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Youth Mariachi Band Instills Cultural Pride

Something seemed to be missing for Ismael and Delia Palomino of Camarillo.

When they finally figured out it was the mariachi music they were so accustomed to hearing in Los Angeles County, they decided to form the Mariachi Juvenil Azteca de Camarillo--the area’s first youth mariachi band.

The Palominos’ son, Danny, agreed to round up his buddies from the Camarillo marching band, and before they knew it, the Palominos had a group of 11 mariachi players ranging in age from 9 to 16, playing guitars, violins and trumpets.

The group helps keep the Mexican culture alive in Camarillo--they have played at fund-raisers, schools and churches and on radio and television over the last two years.

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On Feb. 15 they will play at the International Food and Entertainment Festival at the Camarillo Community Center on Burnley Street and Carmen Drive.

“It’s something positive for them,” Delia Palomino said. “They’re involved in music and in our culture. It also keeps them busy and out of trouble.”

In addition to practicing their instruments for four hours a day, band members receive intensive training once a week from Luis Salinas, who has been teaching mariachi bands for the last 35 years.

“I see a transformation in them from when they first started,” Salinas said. “And then they got proud of their music and their heritage.”

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Band members attended a mariachi conference in Phoenix last April, with more than 1,000 other children. During the three-day workshop, they made new friends and learned new songs. This year, the group has only enough money to send two of its members, Carlos Ozuna, 16, and Danny, 16, both trumpet players.

“Danny asked me if I wanted to join the band my freshman year and I didn’t believe him, because I didn’t think he played mariachi,” Carlos said. “Then I saw him play at Oxnard College. After that, I joined the band.”

The youngest band member, 9-year-old Victoria Rodriguez, says her father encouraged her to join because he used to play with a mariachi band.

“It’s just fun and we get to go places,” said Victoria, who has been playing the violin since she was 6.

Both Danny and Carlos agreed that playing is fun, and it gives them something to do.

Although when Danny, who has been playing for the last five years, isn’t busy practicing his trumpet, he says he likes to play hockey.

For more information about the band, call Delia Palomino at 987-5549.


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