Phoenix music conservatory helps kids find passion in music

Michael Rodriquez composes music for dozens of instruments - but he's not a professional composer working for a movie studio.

He's a 15-year-old student attending the Phoenix Conservatory of Music (PCM).

"I've been here three years," says Rodriguez. "Coming here I've strived to be a better person."

Regina Nixon, executive director for PCM, says the conservatory's goal is to show the impact of music in the Phoenix community.

"Our mission is to unleash the power of music in our community through quality music lessons that are affordable and accessible," says Nixon.

Lourde Childs, another student, came to PCM at 9 years old with his brother for violin. A violin lesson revealed Childs's voice is his true instrument.

"My mouth dropped because there's this voice," explains Nixon, "And I was like, what are you doing playing violin with a voice like that?!"

Since then, Childs has been taken off the violin - and placed in front of the microphone.

Rodriguez and Childs performed Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" in Washington, D.C. when PCM won the National Arts and Humanities Award in 2017, recognizing the 20 years that the program has worked developing young talent.

Rodriguez and Childs are just two of 100 amazing students attending PCM each week.

"We do have students who come in and have never played an instrument in their lives," says Regina Nixon. "There's a tuition but it's an incredible low cost, and we have financial aid and scholarships so that cost is never a barrier to participation."

Once they get the basics down, they build other skills, including song writing, audio production, music business and private lessons.

Their success in music leads to success in school, with many receiving partial or full scholarships.

"The program has a 95% high school graduation rate," says Nixon. "71% of those students go to college or university."

It's a success story in the middle of the city, and it's easy to see - and hear - they are on their way to realizing their dreams.