Music Features

Places to Learn Music in Metro Phoenix

Sam Ash is just one of the music stores where you can pick up new musical skills.
Sam Ash is just one of the music stores where you can pick up new musical skills. Benjamin Leatherman

At a certain age, it's easy to give up on the dream of learning an instrument. Nowadays, learning music is often part of a student's curriculum, and it's easy to think that once the opportunity has passed, it's gone for good. Fortunately, there are programs in metro Phoenix that are aimed at teaching adult beginners, and those of any level looking to learn new skills on a variety of music-making topics.


Harmony House
15229 North Cave Creek Road
If DJing and producing aren't exactly what you had in mind, Harmony House offers a variety of instrument rentals and lesson programs. They rent out pianos, guitars, electric basses, and drums as well as strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments. From there, Harmony House has employed a number of local professional musicians and teachers to help guide players of all skill levels and ages. For many instruments, lessons can be arranged in-store or at home. Lessons are available for musicians looking to expand their skills in many types of vocal performance and piano, but also for more obscure instruments like the English horn, steel guitar or mandolin.

Lessons can be arranged through the Harmony House website or by calling (602) 832-7872.

Milano Music Center
38 West Main Street, Mesa
The Linton-Milano music store in Mesa also offers instrument rentals and lessons on a variety of different horns, strings, drums, woodwind instruments, voice, and theory-based classes. Together, the staff has centuries of experience and the teachers come from many musical backgrounds: French horn, trumpet, and trombone teacher Dr. Will Dobra has performed with the Phoenix Symphony, and many teachers have completed advanced degrees at renowned institutes.

Rentals begin at $20 for instruments like the clarinet, trumpet, violin and more. For larger, more expensive instruments like tubas and bassoons, monthly rentals run $90-$110. Lessons are offered for $28 per half hour or $50 per hour. Call (480) 833-2323.

Sam Ash
4402 West Cactus Road, Glendale
Every Saturday morning, Sam Ash music stores throughout the country offer a series of free classes on music technology. Dubbed "Technology Saturdays," the classes offered are Digital Recording 101, EDM Class and Digital DJ.

In Digital Recording 101, Sam Ash teams up with PreSonus to teach recording and editing on Studio One software. Attendees will also get to explore a variety of studio accessories, monitors, and interfaces. This workshop begins at 10 a.m., and is aimed at beginners looking to get comfortable with recording terminology, tools, and techniques.

At 10:45 a.m., Sam Ash conducts EDM Class. Attendees can expect to learn how to create and record different genres of electronic music from trance to dubstep to techno to disco. At 11:30 a.m. is the interactive Digital DJ workshop. Students of all levels will have something to gain from this 4-week course that touches on software basics, setup, beatmatching and many other topics that are important for burgeoning DJs to have in their wheelhouse.

All of the classes are free, but attendees must register on the Sam Ash website.

New schoolin':

Community college programs
Community colleges throughout the Valley offer a wide range of programs that don't require musical experience. Scottsdale Community College offers a two-year degree in DJ and Turntablism. Mesa Community College offers a similar, 33-credit certificate program.

Paradise Valley Community College has classes on topics like music theory, studio recording, and electronic music. Glendale Community College offers degrees with focuses on the commercial and business side of music.

For more information on the music degrees, certifications and classes offered through Maricopa Community Colleges, visit their website.

Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences
2300 East Broadway Road, Tempe
Perhaps music marks a new page in your life, as a mean to start a new career or go back to school. The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences (CRAS) offers 48-week programs with the intent of placing  students in jobs in audio recording. The course curriculum is arranged to adhere to CRAS's five focuses: music, live sound, broadcast, film & television, and video games. After completing the standard coursework, students will complete an internship over 12 weeks in order to master the hands-on elements taught in class.

By the time all of the work is complete, students will have certifications in software such as Apple Logic Pro, Antares Autotune, and many more programs and types of equipment. Students have access to CRAS's up-to-date, professional grade equipment, and will receive a laptop recording package that includes a MacBook Pro, Komplete Audio 6 Channel Audio Interface, and other necessary equipment.

Tuition for CRAS runs around $18,659, although financial aid is offered. For more information and to apply for the conservatory, visit CRAS's website.

If you're on the hunt for a more rigorous, one-on-one approach, DJ4Life offers multiple-levels of courses for DJs of all levels. DJ4Life provides students all of the necessary equipment, and classes are held at instructors' studios. The beginners class aims to teach students the basics of the booth and equipment, along with instruction on mixing and selecting music. Intermediate classes grow on these principles, while also delving into beat-matching, and more advanced techniques.

DJ4Life also offers a hands-on performing DJ course, where students conduct a preparation session before performing three gigs. Prices for a session of DJ4Life range from $399 to $499, which includes three, 2-hour private sessions. The program also offers a $75 online course. For more information and to register, visit the DJ4Life website.

click to enlarge Learn to build and repair string instruments at Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. - BECKY BARTKOWSKI
Learn to build and repair string instruments at Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery.
Becky Bartkowski
berto-Venn School of Luthiery
1012 Northwest Grand Avenue
Luthiery, or the art of constructing, and repairing, stringed instruments, might be a specific, niche career focus, but Phoenicians are blessed to have the best-of-the-best right in town. The Roberto-Venn school was founded in 1975, making it the longest-running guitar-making store in America. Of the three founders, the two namesakes have passed away: John Roberts and Robert Venn. Now, William Eaton serves as the director, and runs an intensive 5-month course on guitar making and repair.

That course isn't for the casually interested or curious: Classes run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. By graduation, students will complete two project guitars, and receive a certificate of license from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, and accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The next session begins August 23 and runs through January. Tuition is $10,950. For more information, visit the Roberto-Venn website.

If you aren't looking to commit your life to the art of guitar making, the Robert-Venn School offers less consuming classes on specific topics like French polishing, tools, lap-steel construction, and a 1-week electric guitar building course. The classes range from $365 to $1,450, and more information is available on the Roberto-Venn course listing.

Great programs for the kids, too:
Rosie's House is a free, afterschool music academy dedicated to serving children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. - JIM LOUVAU
Rosie's House is a free, afterschool music academy dedicated to serving children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Jim Louvau
Girls Rock
This year, the Girls Rock summer camp runs from June 11-16. At camp, girls, trans and gender non-conforming children ages 8 to 17 will learn rock instruments, form bands, and write and perform an original song while learning from vetted local musicians who volunteer. Students learn topics such as songwriting, and the history of women in music, as well as an instrument such as bass, guitar, keyboard, drums or vocals.

Girls Rock's mission is to empower young students, so teachers also cover topics such as body positivity, self-defense, and other areas.

The camp day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church, 1875 North Central Avenue, from June 11-15. The camper band showcase is on Saturday, June 16 at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North 2nd Avenue, Phoenix. Tuition is offered on a sliding, need-based scale and no student will be turned away because of an inability to pay. For more information and to apply, visit the Girls Rock Phoenix website.

Rosie's House
1875 North Central Avenue
Rosie's House first opened its doors in 1996 and now enrolls 400 music students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In September, beginning and advanced music students can apply for the free afterschool music academy in a variety of different programs. Piano, string, brass & woodwind, choir, and chamber programs are all offered to children from ages 5 and up. Students have class once a week from September through May and are required to practice at least 25 minutes a day.

Teachers at Rosie's House come with bachelor and post-graduate degrees from the finest universities and conservatories including the Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Southern California, and Arizona State University's Herberger Institute.

To check admissions qualifications and find more information, visit the Rosie's House website.
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