We had the good fortune of connecting with Aldo Cardenas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aldo, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
As an educator and a performer, my goal is to make music accessible to everyone. Growing up, I was exposed to both Mexican and American cultures. My desire to teach bloomed when many of my family’s Spanish-speaking friends had an interest in learning how to play an instrument. Even at a young age, I noticed early on that there weren’t many Spanish speaking music instructors in the Marietta area that were offering private lessons. I began to offer tutelage once I realized many parents in the area I lived in were interested in the beginning, but could not find a way around the language barrier. The environment I was raised in inspired me to expand my education program to schools and businesses.
Performing has also played a major part in my personal journey as a growing musician. Being able to share the stage with people with the same passion is a feeling like no other. From traditional mariachi music to rock bands to hip-hop, I have had the pleasure of sharing music with a wide range of audiences and musicians – both near and far.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My passion for music lies in teaching and performing. Living in the Metro Atlanta area has created amazing opportunities for both. As I continued to offer lessons in both English and Spanish, I was tasked with building education programs in several locations, including the guitar program at CCTK in Buckhead, and our music lesson program at Dirt Cheep Music in Smyrna, where I offer lessons for several instruments, including guitar, bass, saxophone, and piano. Outside of the classroom setting, I have had the pleasure of teaching and working with well-known figures, including Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who I worked closely with as his guitar/vihuela tech. I currently play in a professional mariachi band (Mariachi Buhos de Oro), front my creative outlet (City Playgrounds), and regularly work as a session musician in Atlanta. Living in an area where diversity has a significant influence on music has been a blessing. Building and maintaining a good network of contacts has been quite the challenge – especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the spare time many now have, learning a new hobby or picking up a new one has led to a spike in students. However, having to teach online and having last minute cancellations due to personal issues from either party has made it difficult to keep a consistent routine at times. Several TV and film productions I began work on shutdown. Creative and educational projects fell through. Finding new ways to share a performance or teach through the use of social media and online classes has created new problems I never imagined I would encounter, but exchanging ideas with others who are in the same position has made everything much easier. Thankfully, as more venues and school programs begin to open, opportunities begin to blossom. No matter how difficult anything may seem, I always remember to take a deep breath and try to take it one step at a time!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As venues and hangout spots begin to open back up, I find myself exploring new locations in the Atlanta area. Park Tavern, located in Piedmont Park, has quickly turned into one of my favorite spots for music and an overall good time. Buteco, located at The Beacon in Atlanta, has been a go-to for friends and musicians alike to grab a bite and catch some open mics during the week. I find myself going for a hike on the trails of the Chattahoochee River and Kennesaw Mountain, located about 25-30 mins from the city – and it has been a great source for creative inspiration! After a long night of performing, my bandmates and I would usually head to Joystick or Sister Louisa’s Church on Edgewood (Pre-Pandemic, of course). Always a good time ~
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My story would be very different from where I stand today had it not been for my family, mentors and friends that have been kind enough to guide me. My parents and siblings continue to encourage me to strive for greatness and have been supportive of my career choice. My students frequently keep me on my toes and help me want to become a better teacher. My fellow musicians and friends, be it at church, Mariachi Buhos de Oro, City Playgrounds, Session 9, or elsewhere, always push me to create something new and meaningful. The team at Dirt Cheep continues to make most workdays feel fresh with a brand new bit of information, whether it’s on a new piece of gear or negotiating with a client.
As a musician, I always aim to become better than I was the day before. Whenever I help a student reach their goal, I challenge them to take it to the next level, much like how many of my mentors pushed me. If I can teach someone something new while I learn something in the process, I am already a step further ahead than I was yesterday. I look at my personal success as continuing to wake up every morning loving what I do for a living, always eager to learn and work until I am tired at the end of the day. As my parents always say, “Echale ganas, hijo!”
Session 9 Group Pic: Jose Navarro Mariachi at Live!: Live at the Battery Atlanta MDJ Article: Marietta Daily Journal Headshot: Jose Navarro City Playgrounds @ Vinyl: Michael Thompson Adult Swim Set: Karla Cardenas YouTube Atlanta: N/A Kap G: N/A