Jose Hernandez Guide for a Professional Mariachi

For the past 25 years, I’ve been playing mariachi music at the professional level. I always adhere to a high code of conduct, that I would like to share with my fellow mariachi musicians.


  1. Be on time, at least 20 minutes before down-beat.
  2. Careful tuning is essential for a good rehearsal and performance. Needless playing is unfair to others who are trying to tune.
  3. If rehearsing with written music, place your music stand at best height for maintaining eye contact with the conductor.
  4. Stop playing when conductor stops, and listen to what he says.
  5. Do not rely on reading music, try to memorize as fast as possible so that you can interpret your music better.
  6. When playing, listen to the entire Mariachi. All parts are important, especially the rhythm section.
  7. Keep track of time allowed for breaks, be back to play on schedule.
  8. NEVER stare or comment when someone makes a mistake. This is discourteous to the player and distracting for everyone. AND YOU COULD BE NEXT!
  9. Practice your parts at home. Plan your practice. Isolate problems in advance so you can concentrate on them.
  10. Prepare group choreography during rehearsals.
  11. Continuing your musical education in voice and instrument is very important for longevity as a good all around musician.

Image and Hygiene

  1. Clean boots, traje, botonadura, haircut, nails cut and clean and personal presentation.
  2. Remember we are striving to get rid of the image of the stereotypical pot bellied Mariachi sitting under the cactus.


  1. When accompanying singer, do not over shadow the star.
  2. Once on stage do not practice parts, it looks unprofessional.
  3. Adjust attitude and facial expressions to type of the song you are performing.
  4. Do not talk to person next to you on stage unless its part of the act.
  5. Always keep in subtle tough with section leader, vocal cutoffs and director but DO NOT IGNORE AUDIENCE.
  6. When featured as a solo singer your arm movements and facial expressions need to compliment the lyrics of the song. Practice in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable.
  7. Choosing the right variety of songs and change of tempos are important for your choice of repertoire. PLEASING THW AUDIENCE ALWAYS COMES FIRST.
  8. Have fun, enjoy yourself during performance. DO NOT GET UPTIGHT!

Professional Conduct

  1. If you do not have something nice to say about your fellow musicians, do not say anything at all. If you have a problem with someone discuss it with your leader.
  2. Constructive criticism is one thing, putting people down is another.
  3. Always put your ego aside.
  4. When you appreciate the performance of another group let them know, congratulate them. This shows humility and true appreciation of Mariachi.
  5. Healthy competition is good motivation and results in better performance by all groups.
  6. Remember a professional musician can be creative and innovative, not always bound to the mechanics.


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