Sunrise sophomore to attend Master Class at Berklee City Music Summit

CARY HINES, Assistant editor

Photo by Steven E. Purcell
Lourde Childs, right, and Michael Rodriguez from the Phoenix Conservatory of Music perform at the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards Nov. 9, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Lourde, a Sunrise Mountain High School sophomore, was one of six Phoenix Conservatory of Music students chosen to attend the Berklee City Music Summit Master Class Nov. 4-7 in Nashville, Tenn.

A Sunrise Mountain High School sophomore is one of only 21 students throughout the country accepted into a Master Class at the Berklee City Music Summit Nov. 4-7 in Nashville, Tenn.

Lourde Childs said he and his parents were excited when they found out he’d been chosen to participate in the prestigious program.

“I was just very proud of myself for pushing myself to send in the audition tape,” Lourde said.

Lourde is one of six Phoenix Conservatory of Music students tapped to attend the annual summit. He has been with PCM for about five years. Originally part of a violin ensemble at PCM, Lourde’s focus changed when PCM Executive Director Regina Nixon overheard him singing one day.

“I was sitting at a theory table and Regina walked by and she heard me singing and she’s like, ‘We need to have you in one of our bands,’ so she took me and put me as a vocalist in a pop rock ensemble band and so ever since then, I’ve been singing at Phoenix Conservatory of Music,” Lourde said.

PCM is a nonprofit that was founded in 1998 by Bonnie Lou Coleman who saw a gradual decrease in the readiness of college level students preparing for a career in music education, according to PCM’s website. PCM has four main programs: afterschool programs, in-house group classes, private music lessons and a college preparatory program.

Lourde and the other five musicians from PCM selected for the Master Class are part of the college prep program. The program is for students in fourth through 12th grade who are given the opportunity to study outside of school between three and 10 hours a week. The program involves music theory, ensembles and enrichment classes, such as song writing and audio production.

“That way, they are mimicking on a small scale what actually happens if they were to go to college and be a music major,” Nixon said.

The Phoenix Conservatory of Music has been an affiliate member of the Berklee College of Music’s Berklee City Music Network since 2010. It is the only affiliate in the state.

“This is a stamp of approval from the premier music school in the country,” PCM’s website states.

The Berklee City Music Network enables youths from underserved communities to develop musically, academically, socially and emotionally, primarily through the study of contemporary music, according to Berklee’s website. More than 40 organizations in the U.S., Canada and Latin America form the BCMN. Its members have access to support and resources that help them provide quality contemporary music education to youths in their communities.

Students who attend the Master Class at the Berklee City Music Summit have the opportunity to engage with experts in their field, Nixon said.

“So it’s going to be an opportunity for them not only to learn about developing their craft as a musician, but really think about what different opportunities are going to be available to them in the music industry that have very little to do with actually playing an instrument and have more to do with the business of music,” Nixon said.

A group of PCM students attended the Master Class a few years ago at the summit in New York and it was a life-changing experience for them, Nixon said.

“Not only are they getting the chance to work with these high-level artists who have toured all over the world and are really well-versed in the music industry and music business, their playing elevates to a different level,” she said.

She said attending the summit also gives their college resumes a boost.

At only 14 years old, Lourde’s resume is already impressive.

He was one of two students chosen to perform in Washington, D.C., last year for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program awards ceremony. He, along with fellow PCM student Michael Rodriguez, who plays the piano, performed “Man in the Mirror.”

“It was just such a great experience,” he said. “It was so nice. Such a great audience, just great energy all around.”

And just last March, he was given a solo in the Phoenix Symphony’s performance of “West Side Story” after Symphony Conductor Tito Munoz saw the video performance of “Man in the Mirror” and asked him to audition.

Lourde said he hopes to get into the Berklee College of Music after he graduates from high school and make a career out of singing.

“That’s my dream goal,” he said.

Lourde has been singing for as long as he can remember and sings in his school choir in addition to PCM. He grew up listening to gospel and pop, but his favorite genre is R&B and blues, he said.

“It’s really calming, it puts me in such a good mood and it just makes me feel really good,” he said.

He’s even written a couple of songs.

“When I’m in a certain mood, I’ll just sit down and write some lyrics, thinking of some melodies, it’s really calming,” he said.

He still plays the violin, something he’s been doing for about eight years, and recently took up the guitar.

“I’ve been playing that for about a year,” he said, adding that because he already plays the violin, the guitar came with “an easier learning curve.”

He said he knows his days will be busy during the Master Class, but that he’s excited for it and is looking forward to “meeting tons of new people who love the same stuff that I love.”

PCM is covering the majority of the cost, but each student is responsible for about $600 to cover airfare and room and board. To make a donation, go to

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