Rosie's House – A Music Academy for Children, 2014 Governor's Arts Award organizational winner in Arts Education, provides a completely FREE after school music program for economically disadvantaged children. They have been recognized as a community change agent by a number of local and national organizations including PBS and National Society of Arts & Letters.
We're so happy to have Becky Ballard, Artistic & Executive Director of Rosie's House, share her inspiration and motivation for working to encourage creativity among Arizona's youth.
On September 3rd we had new student orientation at Rosie’s House. As I stood onstage to welcome our new students – I was greeted by hopeful faces bright with eagerness, enthusiasm and curiosity. I felt overwhelmed by emotions. I also felt eager, enthusiastic and curious. Who are our new students and what are their hopes, dreams and fears? How will music education shape their lives – in ten years will their faces still be bright, eager and curious? How can I help fuel their spark?
I know all of my students have one thing in common; their families are economically disadvantaged. It breaks my heart, and drives my ambition for change, that this one “indicator” is correlated with educational achievement including high school and college graduation rates. As the largest free afterschool music program statewide, our work at Rosie’s House ensures our students have equitable access to the arts by providing free music lessons, loaned instruments, and mentorship. But more than being a music school, we are a community, a safety net, an incubator of dreams, a creativity playground and an afterschool “home” for our students.
As emotions washed over me last night, flashes of insight and connections were firing in my mind. I felt overwhelmed by all of the potential waiting to be unlocked by the powerful key of music. I wanted to tell my new students:
Music will comfort you.
I have seen it-first hand. Music comforted my violin student whose family was in despair. His mother wanted to share their story, these are her words:
“Music has been proven to be therapeutic and I can truly see the positive effect it has had on my son. Not only has his self-esteem improved, he is happier than he's been since his father's incarceration.”
Music will give you a voice.
I have watched my students stand taller, find their voice and create their own identity. Claudia has given me permission to share her feelings. These are her words:
“I am a really timid person – music has taught me to express myself. The Mariachi program has helped me come out of my shell, I sing in front of thousands of people and I never could have imagined that… Music has changed my life by making me self-confident.”
Music will set you on a path.
My students come to our campus from all over the Valley. On our campus – students, parents, our faculty members, our staff – we all come together to strive forward, to improve, to excel and to inspire. When our students become musicians, the benefits extend and expand from the head to the heart to actions and intentions on the stage, in the classroom and beyond.
I can’t take full credit for our 96% college accomplishment rate for graduating seniors, but I know we have contributed greatly to each student’s cognitive abilities, character, and values. Music has set our alumni students on a path for success; and they have unlocked their true potential.
What did I tell my students?
That I am a musician. That I was excited they were here at Rosie’s House to make music. I gave out high-fives, Rosie’s House pencils, and advice about practicing their instruments. I smiled, held in my emotions, and silently rejoiced in the beauty and power of music.