MIGRANTS: Tuba thefts

Santiago "Shagi" Mata, tuba player, Maywood, CA

The LA band craze continues to claim high school tubas right and left.

Here’s a link to a story about the latest: Bell High School had two stolen over the weekend, valued at $6,000 apiece. Several other schools have had tubas stolen in recent months.

It’s all about the emergence of the tuba as the emblematic instrument for Southern California in this era, just as the electric guitar was for the 1970s.

With the arrival of Mexican immigrants, and their tradition of house parties, the tuba has become all the rage in SoCal. Great tubists in banda music, like Santiago Mata (pictured here), are paid more than other musicians.

Also, the Sierreno trio — tuba, guitar and accordion — has grown in popularity at these parties.

Hence, tubas, the most expensive of marching band instruments, are in high demand. Most of the thefts have taken place in predominantly Mexican immigrant areas — southeast of LA especially — where banda is hugely popular.

I’ve written a story about this phenomenon and one about the thefts of tubas that many instructors believe is the result.










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