A family affair with Mariachi music

Monday, February 6, 2006

NEWTON, Kan. -- When she was younger, Tasha Garnica would go visit her grandparents and sneak into their bedroom.

It was in there Lidio Jaso kept his musical instruments when the grandkids came over.

"The guitars would be on the bed," Garnica said. "We'd sneak in and play with them, and grandpa would catch us."

Then she and her cousins had an idea. If you can't beat them, join them. They asked Jaso to teach them how to play.

"I thought they were kidding," Jaso said. "But they fooled me."

Garnica has been playing guitar for eight years as one of the founding members of Mariachi Juvenil Toltec.

Also in the band are violin players, trumpet players, a bass player, vihuela player and a vocalist.

Some of the original band members are gone, graduating high school or moving away. But the band keeps playing under the direction of 89-year old Jaso.

"They play as long as we can keep together," Garnica said. "A lot of us have been together for eight or nine years."

The group plays traditional Mariachi music, a form of Mexican music Jaso grew up with.

He learned to play music when he was 8 years old. He went on to form his own Mariachi band and learn how to play other instruments.

"The only thing I can't do is sing," Jaso said.

He took on teaching and arranging music for his grandchildren about nine years ago.

At the time Jaso's grandchildren knew little of his musical experience, but they have learned about both his lifelong love affair with music and how it fits into their own heritage.

"It's a part of our heritage and our grandfather was in it for a long time," Garnica said. "It's important to take after him."

The band practices as often as possible, but as the group members get older it gets harder to get them all in the same room. That challenge has not prevented Mariachi Juvinil Toltec from playing at Kennedy Plaza, Horace Mann School, Hutchinson Fiestas, Bethel College, Kidron Bethel, Presbyterian Manor, and a benefit for the Wichita Mexican Association at Wichita State's Koch Arena.

Jaso arranges all of the group's music. "It keeps me busy -- hard work is out of the question now," Jaso said. "I am too old for that."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: