Generation after generation, “Las Aguilitas de Davis” is showing students the beauty of mariachi music

Generation after generation, “Las Aguilitas de Davis” is showing students the beauty of mariachi music
Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 7:02 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A youth mariachi group from Tucson is taking their talents to the next level.

Las Aguilitas de Davis is an all-student mariachi group at Davis Bilingual Elementary School in Tucson

The vision for Las Aguilitas started over 40 years ago when Alfredo Valenzuela, the founder of the mariachi group, knew he had a special calling.

“I think God gave me a lot of love for our young children,” Alfredo Valenzuela said.

Seeing the love of music grow in his students’ hearts is what inspired Alfredo Valenzuela to start Las Aguilitas de Davis.

“He also gave me the patience to teach beginner students when you are telling a student this is a guitar, this is a string, this is the frit. I had that patience,” Alfredo Valenzuela said. “I feel so blessed to develop this beautiful thing.”

Blessed because the group started with just playing guitars in the 80′s.

“It really inspired me to see all these young students involved in mariachi music. I decided to start a mariachi program here,” Alfredo Valenzuela said. “I had a lot of support from our administrators and from the parents, everybody, and the Mariachi program has just taken off.”

Alfredo said it’s the same inspiration that evolved the program into what it’s become today.

“I had a lot of support from our administrators and from the parents, everybody, and the mariachi program has just taken off,” Alfredo Valenzuela said.

Alfredo’s son, Jamie Valenzuela followed in his father’s footsteps taking over the mariachi program at Davis Bilingual. The two have paved the way for thousands of students to learn the importance of mariachi music.

Jaime’s son and nephew are now in Las Aguilitas, making three generations of mariachi in the family.

“It unites all the students,” Jaime Valenzuela. “Hispanic students get to learn their own heritage and culture but not only that they get to share it with other students.”

The Valenzuelas aren’t the only family with a long history in the group.

Fourth-grader, Carina Moreno tells 13 News both her mother and brother were once in Las Aguilitas. She plays the violin.

“I love hearing violins, guitars, trumpets. It’s my favorite thing,” Moreno said. “When I play my violin and other instruments it feels like everything comes out that is negative.”

Moreno said her family is always there to support and help when needed.

The group currently has 53 members playing instruments like the violin, guitar, and trumpet.

Whether it’s embracing their own culture or learning more about another each has a special reason for being in the group.

Ariana Fuentes is a third-grader at Davis Bilingual Elementary, she plays the violin and sings. Fuentes said mariachi music helps her feel united with her family.

“My Abuelitos at every party they invite a Mariachi,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes is proud to wear Traje de Charro (a type of suit that originated in Mexico). She said wearing the legendary wardrobe to perform helps her feel alive on stage.

“The first time that I wore my Traje. I was like, oh my gosh, this looks so good on me, “ Fuentes said. “It’s really amazing hearing the sound high, all those things that make a mariachi, a mariachi.”

David Rawson is a fifth-grade student at Davis Bilingual. He plays the guitar and sings for Las Aguilitas.

Rawson said his father is from England and never had the opportunity to experience mariachi music. He said this is why his parents encouraged him to try out for Las Aguilitas. He has since fallen in love.

“I love to study and learn about different cultures,” Rawson. “It’s very cultural. It’s traditional. I think it’s great to like all styles of music. "

Mateo Morillon Thompson plays the trumpet for Las Aguilitas. He said listening to the music he makes motivates him to go further.

Morillon Thompson adds being in the program challenges him to learn different music.

“El Niño Perdido is one of the hardest songs that I know,” Morillon Thompson said. “I’m one of the people who play the solo in El Niño Perdido.”

In the next 40 years, the family wants to expand the group adding even more generations of Valenzuelas to Las Aguilitas.

“I hope this program will still be going strong,” Jaime Valenzuela said.“Hopefully one of my kids will take over. That is what the plan is. My son is always talking about how he would like to be one day the director of Mariachi Las Aguilitas.”

On Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, Las Aguilitas will get the chance of a lifetime. The students are taking their talents to national television giving more people the chance to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

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