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Turlock teachers dance to their own mariachi music
Mariachi photo 1
The Grishaws sing and play mariachi music at their annual Mexican Independence Day Celebration party. Pictured from left to right: Elizabeth Grishaw, Jim Grishaw, Don Grishaw and Angelica Grishaw. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal

Singing in a noodle factory in Kurume, Japan was a different experience for Walnut Elementary Education Center teacher Angelica Grishaw and Pitman High School teacher Don Grishaw. But they weren’t the only ones taking on a different cultural experience.

The Japanese people in the noodle factory got to experience mariachi music for the first time, performed by the Grishaws.

“Mariachi music was a bit hit in Japan,” said Angelica Grishaw.

Playing mariachi music in Japan was one of their most memorable experiences in the 12 years they have been playing seriously, but what keeps them playing in a mariachi band is the fact that music is in their DNA.

“That is what inspired us,” said Don Grishaw. “With both of our families, it (music) has always been there.”

Both Angelica and Don Grishaw grew up with music constantly being played at home and it became natural for them to either play an instrument or sing. They brought this tradition to their own family, as their daughter and son join in on the mariachi band festivities from time to time.

They started their band when both Angelica and Don Grishaw were working at Wakefield Elementary School about 12 years ago. They mainly played for their students.

“In the beginning, it started as a gift for our students,” said Angelica Grishaw. “We used to play at their quinceaneras and now we are playing at their weddings.”

Now the band plays about twice a month during Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock. They also play at weddings, quinceañeras, and wherever the festivities are.

So far they have played at churches in Turlock, Riverbank, Stockton, Modesto, Merced and Patterson. They have even played at the Beringer Winery in Napa for a Christmas celebration.

While being a full-time teacher is a time consuming job, they both find a way to make music a part of their lives.

Don Grishaw said at times trying to schedule in some playing time is tricky, but more often finding the time to play just comes naturally because music is in their blood.

“It is more of a way of life than a hobby,” he said. “Music is always there. I couldn’t imagine not playing anymore.”

Don Grishaw is the orchestra and Spanish teacher at Pitman High School, along with taking part in the Modesto Symphony Orchestra for the past 29 years.

The Grishaws have passed their musical way of life onto their two children, who have heard music “since they were in the womb,” said Angelica Grishaw.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.