The Sound of UT: Ceci Garza talks mariachi

Morgan-Taylor Thomas

From a young age, Ceci Garza listened to the festive sounds of mariachi. In high school, her mariachi playing father inspired her to test the waters, leading her to fall in love with the art. Now a government junior, Garza not only plays the violin but also sings in both the University’s mariachi group, Mariachi Paredes de la Universidad de Texas, as well as Mariachi Cielo Azul, a band made up of UT students and alumni.

The Daily Texan spoke with Garza about mariachi’s cultural connection, traditional wear and her post UT mariachi goals.

The Daily Texan: Why do you feel so connected to mariachi? 

Ceci Garza: I love performing. I love having a solo song, wearing the suit — I feel amazing in it. Even before mariachi, I loved being in the spotlight, performing in front of people and hearing them afterwards with their praises. Getting recognized for all the hard work that we had done really motivates me to continue. Mariachi is so entertaining, and I would have never had this if I was in an orchestra. 

DT: What do you wear during performances?

CG: The traditional mariachi suit is three pieces. They’re very heavy (and) very hot, but they’re beautiful. They have a lot of embroidery and gold brooches all along the sides. Some of our suits are suede and some of them are a lighter material. Girls can wear an off the shoulder Mexican top or a dress shirt with a lot of embroidery on it, but usually we wear the actual mariachi suit most of the time. We also wear huge earrings and bows — the whole shebang. 

DT: How does mariachi impact Hispanic and Latinx culture?

CG:  It’s had a tremendous impact in Texas, growing every year and giving hundreds of students the motivation to be in something and have an interest. I think that’s really important, especially for kids getting into the arts and being passionate about where they come from. 

DT: What’s the difference between playing violin mariachi style versus classically? 

CG: Since we’re performing as a group, we have to memorize everything. We’re standing up the whole time, not just sitting down and playing the music. It’s a lot more energetic and very tiring as well. 

DT: What goals do you have for your mariachi career?

CG: Every little girl’s dream is to become a star, right? Obviously, it’s not my main realistic goal, but (making it big is) something I think about a lot. I make pretty good money every weekend doing it, and it’s my main source of income right now. I want to continue post-college because it’s a great job to have (that’s) not a nine to five, and hopefully, play on bigger stages for people I admire. … It’s easy because I’ve done it my whole life.