Date published: May 10, 2010
On Monday, April 5, patients at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, were treated to something special. Arizona's Channel 15 related that they enjoyed some beautiful music made by four young musicians from Rosie's House. The students performed in the lobby, and the music was broadcast into the patients' rooms. Once a month Rosie's students play at the hospital.
Rosie's House is a music academy that provides free after-school music lessons to underprivileged students in downtown Phoenix. According to rosieshouse.org, the program was started in 1 996 by Rosebell Schurz in a small, South Phoenix home "to give children from low-income families the chance to experience the beauty of music in their lives."
In exchange for the complimentary instruction and instruments, Rosie's musicians provide free concerts throughout the community. This exchange is a win- win situation for all involved. "These performances enhance the healing environment by bringing to ... our patients the enthusiasm and joy of young musicians," Tracy Leonard, music therapy coordinator for Banner, said in a press release. The performances not only build the students' confidence, they give them the opportunity to give back to the community that supports them.
And it is the community that supports Rosie's, as the school is dependent solely on contributions. With only two paid staff members, Rosie's relies on the generosity of 15 professional musicians to teach the students, and all the instruments are donated. The school has moved from Rosie's home to the Central United Methodist Church, which donates classrooms, office space, and pianos. Parents of Rosie's students provide to the school four hours of "service" per child per semester.
With music lessons averaging $40 per hour, this program is perhaps the only way these low-income children can experience the benefits of learning to play an instrument, which are many. Becky Bell, Rosie's executive director, told the Cultural Desert blog, "These students learn music, but beyond that they learn discipline, confidence, teamwork, creative thinking, goal setting and achievement." And they make beautiful music, too.