In 1996, Rosie Schurz founded Rosie’s House Musical Academy for Children in a two-bedroom house in an impoverished Phoenix neighborhood. Schurz, a German immigrant, was forced to evacuate her family home during World War II, leaving her violin behind. That experience led her to start Rosie’s House, a program that provides musical instruction for underserved children. We recently talked with Marvin Scott, a former saxophone teacher at the original Rosie’s House, who now serves as the organization’s Program and Community Engagement Director.
What are some of the programs you offer?
The most in demand program here has always been piano, but we also have strings, voice, brass and winds, guitar, digital music and mariachi. We also have the Musicians Mentoring Program, where students in grades 8-12 can volunteer to help out in beginner-level classes; Musicians Active in Community where kids can perform outside of Rosie’s House in partnership with organizations in the community; and College Path, which is our program to support juniors and seniors as they prepare for college.
About 97 percent of your students go to college. What do you attribute that to?
I think that when kids come through a program like Rosie’s House, as they mature, it gives them the ability to have a greater, brighter vision for their future. In our program they’re working on a skill, they’re building on and accomplishing their craft, and they get an opportunity to perform. Through that, they gain confidence in themselves. Their teacher is a mentor, someone who they can trust. Kids who don’t get elevated in this way, might not be able to envision a future of brightness for themselves like the kids in a program like Rosie’s House.
Do many students go into music careers?
Most don’t go on to music careers. Even though we like for our kids to be highly accomplished in musicianship, the goal is not to send them on to Julliard. We want kids to have an experience that is positive and through that positive experience, through music, we want them to reach their full creative potential. Our mission is not to make them the most accomplished musicians, it’s to help them grow and develop through their youth, and then when they graduate, they go on to do lots of different things. They have the foundation in place to accomplish whatever their goal is after they graduate.
Can you tell us about the new Rosie’s House facility?
The new facility in Downtown Phoenix has all the different types of spaces we need in order to run our program. We’ve got a 3,000 square-foot performance hall and a beautiful rehearsal hall, which is about half the size of the performance hall, that holds ensembles. We have seven or eight studios for private lessons, classrooms for our small groups, a piano lab with 16 pianos and a dedicated digital creativity center where digital music happens. Our offices are also there and we have a kitchenette so we’re able to serve meals from that area. All of these things are now under one roof and it’s right off the light rail with access for families who might not have a car.
What kinds of challenges is your organization facing?
Every organization is challenged to grow and further its mission, but this season has been really fruitful for Rosie’s House. We’re grateful for all the support we’ve been getting and have been able to accomplish a lot in the last year, including growing into our new space. We’ve expanded our outreach and we’re serving more families at this time. We just continue to press forward and we’re very successful in our efforts.
What does the future hold for Rosie’s House?
We’re looking to grow in all of our program areas and have room for more families and kids to become involved. We’re open to anybody in metro Phoenix, and as long as families can get here, our doors are open. Come and take a look at our new location and share with those who could benefit greatly from this opportunity.