Aspen Elementary School 6th Grader Elena Roybal Awarded Nacha Mendez $2,000 Music Scholarship

Aspen Elementary School 6th grader Elena Roybal and her orchestra teacher, Michelle  Rosette. Photo Courtesy LAPS


Aspen Elementary School 6th grader Elena Roybal has been awarded a Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship. She will receive a first place level scholarship in the younger girl category in the amount of $2,000. The NMMS Awards Ceremony will be held on May 9 at SITE Santa Fe.

“Music runs deep in my blood,” said Elena. “I really want to get better at playing the violin. I want to learn and play more challenging music. I hope I can continue participating in the
orchestra in middle school next year and later in high school.”

Elena started playing violin in 4th grade at Aspen School and has played for three years in elementary school. She also performs with the Los Alamos Youth Orchestra (LAYO).

“It is marvelous that LAPS starts orchestra in 4th grade; the earlier students start on string
instruments (violin, viola, cello), the greater chance they have of becoming very good on their
instrument,” said Aspen orchestra teacher Michelle Rosette. “Most schools have students
beginning band and orchestra instruments at a much later age. LAPS students are very lucky to  have the support we do from our administration and community.” 

Ms. Rosette added, “In the Los Alamos schools orchestra starts in 4th grade (because stringed  instruments come in various sizes) and band starts in 5th grade (band instruments only come in one size and students have to be big enough to play a band instrument). Elena is a beneficiary of  this policy as she has only learned via her school orchestra.” 

With her $2,000 award money, Elena hopes to enroll in some private lessons and perhaps buy a new  violin.

“Elena has been very focused, motivated and consistent on her violin since she started in 4th grade. She has a natural talent and she practices every day – an unbeatable combination,” said Ms. Rosette. “Elena deserved to win.” 

This is the first year the Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship for New Mexican Girls of Color is  being awarded. Nacha Mendez is a singer/songwriter whose music was aired on the first annual  Latin Grammy Awards on CBS and who has performed locally, regionally, nationally, and  internationally.

Mendez describes the purpose of her scholarship by saying, “My mission is to encourage and  promote the art of instrumental and vocal performance in girls, ages 8-15, in the state of New  Mexico. I expect the recipients of the Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship for New Mexican Girls of  Color to master the skills and acquire the knowledge to help guide them to the highest levels of  music performance. I also aim to empower girls to discover their distinct and unique musical  potential for years to come. I believe that when a girl has passion, dedication, and support,  opportunity multiplies.” 

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