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Music to her ears: Glendale High teacher is Grammy finalist

Music to her ears: Glendale High teacher is Grammy finalist
Amy Rangel, a Glendale High School music teacher and Burbank resident, found out Wednesday morning she’s one of 10 national finalists for the 2019 Music Educator Award granted by the Recording Academy, presenters of the Grammy Awards, and the Grammy Museum. (Tim Berger / Glendale News-Press)

As the odds improve for Glendale High School music teacher Amy Rangel to win a national award, the accolades and anticipation for possible prize money also increase.

The Burbank resident and 19-year veteran teacher found out Wednesday morning that she’s one of 10 national finalists for the 2019 Music Educator Award given by the Grammy Museum and the Recording Academy, which is the presenter of the Grammy Awards.

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The announcement was made on “CBS This Morning.”

“It is an extreme honor,” Rangel said in an email. “There are so many amazing music teachers just here in Glendale, let alone the country. I am just lucky they didn't apply this year.”

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Rangel’s application was one of 2,800 received nationwide. In October, she became one of 25 semifinalists picked from 24 cities and 16 states.

She’s now one of three California finalists along with Victor de los Santos of Santa Ana and Henry Miller of Lake Forest.

“Amy Rangel is a phenomenal music educator, and I’m not surprised at all that she is a finalist for the Grammy Music Teacher of the Year Award,” Glendale High principal Benjamin Wolf said.

“Even though there are no specific funds from the state for music, Amy has created an amazing program at Glendale High School,” he added.

Rangel’s finalist status earns her and Glendale High each a $1,000 grant.

Rangel will be informed in January if she is selected for the 2019 Music Educator Award.

Along with the prestige, Rangel and Glendale High would each be awarded a $10,000 grant should she win. Rangel would also attend and be acknowledged during the Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Feb. 10.

“[I’m] overwhelmed,” Rangel said. “I really wasn’t expecting to get this far.”

Rangel has already proven herself a winner earlier this year when she and the Nitros music program were chosen for the 2018 Grammy Signature Enterprise Award. The honor includes a three-year grant, totaling $22,500.

“I am going to bring in some clinicians on jazz improvisation and purchase some jazz music,” Rangel said, referring to where she’ll spend the money if she wins the Teacher of the Year honor. “We will have three jazz bands next semester, and I want to invest the money in that direction.”

Few people at Glendale High School are as busy as Rangel, who also teaches at Glendale Community College.

At Glendale High, Rangel is in charge of the marching band, color guard and drumline, a concert band, string orchestra, full orchestra, two jazz bands and about 250 students.

“Anyone who has ever heard her jazz bands would never know they weren’t listening to a school in Beverly Hills or even college musicians,” Wolf said. “If my own kids were still in high school, this is where I’d want them to be.”

The notice has humbled and inspired Rangel.

“It always feels good for hard work to be acknowledged, but being a finalist and possible winner is a way of gaining more attention for our program,” she said.

“We really need more resources. The kids and I fund-raise all year to keep instruments repaired and quality music in their hands. I am hoping that this notoriety will help us find donors,” she added.

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