LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A group of Las Vegas students at Monaco Middle School are developing their mariachi musical education, hoping the sounds of their instruments will inspire others to learn more about the tradition.

Passion and love for mariachi music is what brought violinists Jazmin Romero and Gabriel Andrade on the vihuela to join the Mariachi Los Gavilanes de Monaco Middle School.

“Mariachi means mostly everything to me,” Romero said.

“Mariachi to me, its more than just music, it’s more like a way of life like connections to my culture,” Andrade said.

Award after award decorates the colorful hallway leading to a room full of students sharing the same inspiration.

“I would always come around this hall and always seen the trophy and the pictures I always wanted to play an instrument too,” Romero said.

As for Andrade, learning traditional mariachi music was a way to get closer to his family.

“I had a lot of relatives and family members who played lots of instruments, I would hear the music they would be producing and I would be oh wow this is really nice,” he said.

Both told 8 News Now the mariachi program changed their lives.

“We go on trips, we get to meet people all around Vegas, California [and] Texas,” Andrade said.

The group recently won the overall middle school championship at North Las Vegas’s first mariachi competition.

“Wow, I’m able to do this and I am able to compete with other schools,” Romero said.

“I was so happy when they announced first place Mariachi Los Gavilanes I broke down not of sadness but pure joy,” Andrade shared.

The group’s director Daniel Valdez said they had the highest score, but it takes a lot more than just hard work.

“They have to pass classes, so they have to get good grades,” Valdez explained. “We have them every day and then they are at here at lunch they sacrifice their lunch and in here practicing.”

He hopes to pass on his admiration for mariachi music for years to come.

“For me, mariachi means sense of culture a sense of pride and mariachi music allows me to express who I am and teach my culture,” Valdez said.

Andrade and Romero are the generations where mariachi music lives on.

“If you want to learn about the Hispanic Heritage, mariachi is a great way because mariachi offers several different songs about places [and] different people,” Andrade said.