Mariachi school programs are known to be a valuable educational, musical and cultural experience for the students involved. When we have talked with music educators about harps for their ensembles, we've heard about how challenging it is to find a harp that meets all their needs. Traditional look, feel, and sound are important, and so are durability, sharping levers, and tuning stability. Add to that the limits of a school budget, and you're describing a harp that is not easy to find! In many cases, directors have chosen our Ravenna 34 for its reliability, sound and price, even though it has a different tension and feel than the traditional mariachi harps.
For an example of what a school mariachi ensemble can do, this is Roma High School at the Texas State High School Mariachi Competition:
After hearing more about the power of these programs and their challenges finding harps, we were inspired to create a model that speaks to this need. We combined time-tested elements of the Ravenna 34 with a new neck, pillar and string set for a more traditional mariachi look, string tension and spacing. The result is a big, open voice on a very portable, sturdy and affordable harp. It is built to the high quality standards we are known for, and can handle the everyday bumps and bruises of the traveling school group life.
The Mariachi 34 is still in the final prototyping stages, but we expect it to be available some time this Spring!
We took our prototype to the NAMM music industry trade show last week and got lots of great feedback from Mariachi harp players, educators, and even some Paraguayan and Colombian harpists! We were amazed at the wealth of talent, grateful for the education and advice, and very touched to hear such heartfelt gratitude from the Mariachi community for addressing this longtime need.
Here are some of the videos from the show: