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Music Learning and Teaching Graduate Introduces Mariachi Music to School Curriculum


December 9, 2021

Editor’s Note: This story is one in a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

Angie Stephanie Valencia, who graduates in December with a Bachelor of Music in Music Learning and Teaching, and a Minor in Cross-Border Studies Chicana / o and Latina / o, is passionate about creating and implementing the program of mariachi at K-12 and higher schools in Arizona. education.

Angie Stephanie Valence
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Valencia said that after finding out there was a lack of music education for Mariachi educators, she decided to study music to find out more about how to fill this gap.

“Most of the mariachi teachers who are in the classrooms are amazing musicians with many years of experience performing mariachi, and some may have even studied music, but most are not studying. not education and do not learn to teach, “said Valencia.

Valencia also believes that music education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of socio-economic status.

Every summer since graduating from high school, Valencia has taught at Davis Elementary School’s mariachi camp in Tucson, Arizona. She currently plays violin in the local Mariachi Tierra Azteca.

Valence studies the violin at ASU under Danwen Jiang, violin teacher at the School of Music, Dance and Theater

She said one of her proudest accomplishments during her time at ASU was being a recipient of the award. Creative Constellation Scholarship of the Herberger Institute. The funding enabled her to collaborate on “La Raza: The Music of Our People”, her senior project recital spotlighting Latino musicians and composers. Valencia and her co-creator and friend Jesus Lopez said at the time of their grant application they were unaware the event would be virtual due to the pandemic. They worked throughout the semester on the recital and were able to make changes to share their music through a live broadcast performance.

In addition to the Creative Constellation Grant, she was a recipient of the New American University Fellowship for four years and the Margaret T. Morris Fellowship for two years.

During his studies at ASU, Valencia was professor of violin at the School of Music, Dance and Drama Channel project, a program that provides low-cost, high-quality instruction in orchestral stringed instruments to students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. She also devotes her Saturday mornings to student teaching classes in hopes of improving herself as a future educator.

“Angie’s desire to share her music with others was the reason she was nominated as an Outstanding Alumnus for Community Engagement at the Herberger Institute for Design in the Arts,” said Margaret Schmidt, professor at the School of Music, Dance and Theater and founding director. of the ASU String project. “She has been teaching in the ASU String Project since her first year, and her students are always inspired by her enthusiasm to help them share her love of playing stringed instruments. I know she will continue to be a creative mentor and role model for students in her new role.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study music education?

Responnse: When I was in high school I was fortunate enough to go to Tucson High Magnet School which had an amazing fine arts program. I was enrolled in four music classes in my senior year: orchestra, chamber ensemble, mariachi, and AP music theory. When I signed up for these classes, I decided to study music. I now know that even though I hadn’t studied music, what I learned in these classes and the experiences they gave me were so invaluable. They shaped who I was as a person and created memories that will last a lifetime.

Another turning point was when I joined Mariachi Rayos Del Sol in my freshman year of high school. I had a small leadership position in the group and led violin sections. I really enjoyed being able to help my fellow violinists learn our parts.

Question: What did you learn at ASU – in class or elsewhere – that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I have learned to be curious and that there are so many possibilities and creativity in the world. There isn’t just one way music education looks like. I also learned how beautiful the arts are. Being part of the Herberger Institute allowed me to see different artistic mediums and other artists at work. It was enlightening to hear the others talk about their triumphs and struggles in their own creative realm.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Choosing ASU was probably the easiest and most difficult decision I have ever made up to this point in my life. After auditioning and being admitted to all three state universities, there were a few factors that led to my decision to study at ASU. When I was in high school I had two opportunities to visit the ASU School of Music (before it became the School of Music, Dance and Drama). One was with the Tetra String Quartet residency when my quartet was able to do a workshop / masterclass with them. The other was Violin 360 when I attended a workshop with Professor Danwen Jiang, whom I ended up studying with. These experiences were both fun and valuable as a musician. But my main inspiration for choosing ASU was my orchestra teacher at Cayce Miners High School, who is an ASU alumnus and praised the music education program.

Q: Which teacher taught you the most important lesson during your time at ASU?

A: Professor Matthew Fiorentino, with whom I was accompanying Art of Teaching Advanced Instrumentalists in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic started, taught me that whatever is going on, there is always time to stop and check with your students. We started the semester always doing morning stretches, and when things got going in line, we continued with this routine. I think during those unprecedented times and maybe even without realizing it, he taught me by example how to be resilient and ready to adapt as an educator, while still working to inspire students.

Q: What is the best advice you would give to those who are still in school?

A: The best advice I would give to current students is that Professor Danwen Jiang gave me: While you are a student, take advantage of the resources that ASU offers. When you are a student, the campus and ASU are there to serve you. Learn and explore whatever interests you can and invest your time and effort there. Once you’ve graduated in education, it’s your turn to give back. But when you’re a student, it’s time to be selfish and absorb as much of it as possible.

Q: Where was your favorite place on campus, whether to study, meet friends, or just think about life?

A: My favorite place on campus has to be the Music Building courtyard. I like to sit there after class in the morning and let my brain absorb the discussions we just had in class. The ambiance of the courtyard is so calming with the pretty trees, rose bushes and the sound of the fountain. It also comes to life during Tunes at Noon, and it’s nice to see everyone smiling and enjoying each other’s music and company. The people who gather in the courtyard form a charming group of united people.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate?

A: In January, I will be returning to my alma mater, Tucson High Magnet School, as Co-Director of the Orchestral Program alongside Cayce Miners. It really is the dream job that I never thought would happen right out of school.

Q: If someone gave you $ 40 million to solve a problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I have always said that education is a lottery, much like life. Some of us are lucky either because of where we are and what we were born into. I think there is so much room for equity and inclusion in education, but also for consistent and constant improvement.


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