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Borderland Music Teacher Wins Juilliard Fellowship

Rachel Montellano guides young musicians at the Socorro Independent School District’s Paso Del Norte K-8 school.

But school’s never out for this band and orchestra director, who recently won a conducting fellowship at Juilliard, one of the most prestigious music schools in the country.

“I’ll have a bunch of seminar classes through the day…from eight to five, and it’s a week long at Juilliard,” said Rachel, who will train there in July.

She says Juilliard is a place many aspiring musicians can only dream about, and to receive a fellowship from the New York City institution was a shock to her.

“I think I’m still in the shock phase – I mean, it’s still – maybe when I get there, I think that’s when it’s really gonna hit me,” Rachel said, adding, “The people that applied for the job or for the fellowships were from fourteen states and over seven countries.” She was one of ten fellowship winners.

Rachel hopes to pass on what she learns at the summer clinic to her students, who think highly of her.

“I think it’s really awesome…you get to go to Juilliard, you know. I think that’s really cool…I feel really happy for her,” said eighth grade cellist Olivia Timmons.

Yazmine Calvillo, an eighth grade violist, agreed and praised her teacher’s methods. “If we get something wrong, she stops us and corrects us and she knows how to teach us really well,” she said.

Rachel has this advice for future musicians: “Reach for the stars and go for it – that’s it – work hard and practice hard.”

These students follow her lead. Perhaps others will, too.

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