Los Changuitos Feos mariachi performing at Stop the Violence eve - Tucson News Now

Los Changuitos Feos mariachi performing at Stop the Violence event

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Our Latino community knows all about them and they're all over the south side.

The young mariachi group has been keeping our kids in school and out of trouble for almost 50 years.

"It's the greatest experience I've ever had in my life," said 15-year-old Victoria Arias.

In the young mariachi community, "Los Changuitos Feos" carry a great amount of prestige.

This elite crew is hand-picked by their teachers. They not only have to make the grade - maintain a 'B' average - they have to show they can really play.

"It helps me be focused in school cause without the grades and if I'm failing I'm not gonna be in the group and that's like a knife to my heart cause it's been my world for ten years," said 17-year-old Ali Pizarro.

Ali Pizarro has been playing the guitarra de golpe with the group for a couple of years now.

Between the group, sports and school, these young musicians don't have time to mess around.

"It keeps you busy because you have to practice every day, you have to be committed, it's a 24/7 thing- doesn't matter if you're tired," said 15-year-old Yvette Lanz.

She's not kidding.

They meet twice a week for three hours - on top of that - Yvette said their coach's motto is: "Can't come to practice without practicing."

That doesn't even include the three performances they're averaging a week.

So, they've all really got to stay on top of everything so they don't fall behind.

Los Changuitos Feos offers these kids a huge incentive to finish school and graduate.  For every year they're part of the group, they earn a scholarship towards college.

"I'm going to use my scholarship to get books, but it's just really exciting to know that once I'm done it's not going to be for nothing," said Pizarro.

It's definitely not for nothing. They can earn up to $3,000 each year.

"It's amazing, it's like we're a family and we all come together, it's just so much fun i love it," said Arias.

And, that's music to our ears. They'll be celebrating 50 years this summer.

Don't forget you can check them out Saturday at the "Stop the Violence" event on the south side for a special one-hour performance.

Check out that event from noon till 6pm on 31st Street and 5th Avenue. It's free and will have plenty of entertainment for the entire family.

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