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What Is Rosie's House and How Is It Making Phoenix a Better Place to Live?

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Today, we speak with Becky Bell Ballard, the Artistic and Executive Director, of Rosie's House, a music academy for children!
Becky, can you tell us about yourself, the history of your organization, its mission, and how people can get involved?
"I like to tell our students here at Rosie's house to remember the three B's: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. That's how they remember my name! I'm an educator and a musician. I studied music education at Arizona State University and the first instrument I played was the piano. When I was in third grade growing up in Chicago, I had the opportunity to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and I fell in love with the shiny, round horn in the back of the orchestra - I didn't even know what it was at the time. I eventually learned it was a French horn, ended up picking it up in the fourth grade, and have been playing it since."
How long have you been with the organization?
"I've been with Rosie's house for seven years. Previously, I served as Education and Community Engagement Manager with the Phoenix Symphony, so I've always been involved with youth, education, and trying to make our community vibrant through music education. I'm the Artistic and Executive Director with Rosie's House and in that world my main function is to oversee our faculty members, we have 21 part-time staff and a some full-time staff as well. We are a local success story as well as one of the largest free music academies nationwide. The purpose of our organization is to provide access to music education to students in low income families. As we bring students in, we provide them with free after school music instruction, a loan instrument, mentorship, and performance opportunities."
How long has Rosie's house been in existence?
"We were founded 19 years ago, so we will actually be celebrating our 20-year anniversary in March of 2016. Our founding story is really remarkable and inspiring. We were founded by Rosie, hence the name, in a small house in the Oakland neighborhood of Phoenix, which is a very economically depressed area of town. Rosie and her husband, Woody, made that home a safe place for neighborhood children to come after school and be involved in music. We started with 40 students coming after school to that small little house to have music lessons and cookies and milk, as a safe place for kids to meet after school."
I know you went from there to a church in South Phoenix, and you've been here for six or seven years now.
"Right. Rosie's House has been on the campus of Central United Methodist Church since 2006, which is about nine years."
Some of your students have been very successful. Where have some of your best students moved on to?
"That is one of the most rewarding parts of my job: keeping in touching with alumni students and seeing their success and their impact in the community. We just recently had one of our alums come back and talk to us about his path and his story. He graduated in 2004 and went on to pursue his love of the saxophone at U of A. He is now serving in his first year as the music director at the Rosa Linda Elementary School in the Roosevelt District in South Phoenix. So, he came back to his community to provide youth just like him with music. He's one of our success stories, and we've had a lot of students who have gone on to study music."
This is only a small part of my long conversation with Becky! If you want to hear more about Rosie's House and the amazing things they are doing in our community, watch the video above!