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Valley music school looks to reach new students with more scholarships

Posted at 10:45 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 01:45:51-04

A Valley music school looks to reach young, aspiring musicians with new grant funding from the state. The nonprofit attributes the CMA Foundation in part as the pathway to hundreds of new student scholarships.

On any given day at the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, you can walk into any room and find a range of musicians. When Olneya Fong, 15, came to PCM she considered herself a beginner after two years of learning piano. She credits the school with her ability to fluidly play the complexities of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, third movement.

When it’s just her and a piano, the 15-year-old knows her way around the 88 keys. When she joins other teens her age at PCM she’s able to creatively communicate and collaborate — all through music.

“When they took me in, I did music theory, I did music enrichment classes like audio production,” she said.

Fong found the passion for music on her own and used the instruction at PCM to build on that. One day she could be a composer but in the meantime, she’s found the ability to improvise on piano when playing with others, which she says helps her relax from the stresses of traditional school.

For young aspiring musicians searching for the groove, there’s now even more options, even for those who have no previous musical instruction.

“It’s not merit based,” said Regina Nixon, executive director of Phoenix Conservatory of Music.

When ABC15 last covered PCM, we shared how the Country Music Association foundation provided funding to move their instruction online during the pandemic and into Valley schools.

Nixon says that exposure led PCM to receive a grant from the Arizona Department of Education worth over $900,000. Regina tells us thanks in part to the CMA foundation, they can now add 350 student scholarships and add five new courses for students in high school, junior high and the youngest Beethoven’s and Billie Eilish’s out here.

“We’re focusing a lot on early childhood, for Pre-K and K-2. We know all the neurological connections that help make students better readers, better at math, helps with their social emotional learning which students need a lot right now,” said Nixon.

To get a chance to learn how to play like Olneya, you don’t need to be a composer before you get to the school. The new scholarships are available for students who may have otherwise never picked up an instrument.

“If you qualify for free or reduced lunch, or if you're a Title I student, then we have programs you can participate in at no cost,” she said.

Bandmates Marceo Hartwig on drums and Kyle Flanagan on bass say the skills they've learned at PCM surpass any 12 bar blues and those skills help them hit the right notes in other aspects of life.

“That's helped me outside, being like good friends with people, being more connected to people, in a good way,” said Hartwig.