Hispanic Heritage Month

Las Vegas school offers mariachi classes; says music is part of its heritage

Hispanic Heritage Month

Alexis Magana, Monaco Middle Student

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Mariachi is a type of musical group, originally from Mexico. It consists of violins, trumpets, guitars, guitarron and a high pitch, five-string guitar called Vihuela.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, Mariachi is the band to be in at many schools. “I like Vicente Fernandez he was an inspiration when I was just beginning,” said Alexis Magana, a guitar player.

Famous singers such as Antonio Aguilar, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, and Rocio Durcal, have made Mariachi music a tradition. At Monaco Middle School in Las Vegas, Mariachi is part of the school’s heritage. “You don’t have to be Mexican to like Mariachi; people love it,” said Daniel Valdez, Mariachi teacher.

Monaco Middle is one of the original schools to offer Mariachi in the school district. Since 2002, Mariachi has immersed itself through the Monaco hallways. Out of the 1,300 students, 600 are enrolled in Mariachi. “Showing up here and helping these kids out with Mariachi or music, a lot of times it extends to life skills — life problems; whatever they’re having I really enjoy it,” Valdez said.

The mission at the school is not only to educate but also share this style of music with the world. “It just taught me more things of where it comes from and things about what it’s about,” said Alexis Ahumada, a trumpet player.

The most important thing it’s taught students is confidence. “So, I learned how to be independent and the songs — when we are playing them — I learned how to play the songs and not resort to other people,” said Magana.

For some students being part of the Mariachi Los Gavilanes is a big privilege. “We’re kind of like an older brother uncle relationship more than a teacher-student relationship,” Valdez said.