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“Children who study a musical instrument are more likely

to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced

critical thinking skills, stay in school and pursue further education.”  - Arte Music Academy


Nick Simmons and Dave Silva have known each other for more than 20 years, and share a deep love for music. They both grew up with music as an important part of their lives, helping them achieve a sort of meaning and focus in their own lives, and as their teaching careers grew, they both realized they wanted to help students who couldn’t afford lessons in a meaningful way. 

That is how the Play it Forward Foundation was born.


Free Lessons

This program was the initial inspiration behind the foundation. We are both working as music teachers and realized we both had students who could not afford the classes anymore. And we had both found that the students who benefited the most from these lessons were  We have witnessed firsthand the positive affects this program has on students. Notably an increase in skill-level, confidence and self-esteem in students who normally would not have the access or the opportunity to receive a formal music education.

Currently we have 13 people on a wait list and we are hoping to get them into the program for the 2019-2020 School Year.

"Nikhil was emotionally traumatized by the fire but his love for music helped him cope. We lost our house in the Santa Rosa Fire and Play It Forward was able to give my son a scholarship for drum lessons.  I am forever grateful to Nick for his compassion to help out the community when needed”

- Punam Aery

Music at The Living Room

The Living Room is the only day center in Sonoma County specifically serving homeless and at-risk women and their children. We have two programs there:

Music Mondays: a weekly singing program enlisting volunteer local musicians and songwriters to come share their music with participants. Women are offered binders with lyrics and encouraged to sing along.

MAC singing group: the Mother and Child (MAC) room, is a class encouraging mothers and children to sing together, and play along with various instruments, such as hand drums, ukuleles, shakers and harmonicas.


"For those of our participants who have experienced complex traumas throughout their lifetimes, Play it Forward’s singing group has been a breath of much needed and appreciated fresh air.”


- Katie Phillips, volunteer coordinator

New Horizon School

The New Horizon School and Learning Center provides individual learning programs for learning different and dyslexic students. We facilitate a weekly music class for the students, where many of the ones who might find other subjects challenging, find that musical expression is easier, and can be a pathway into a more relaxed approach in other classes as well. For some students, it's just a relief, for others, the basic steps of musical theory has been a confidence builder.

“The unity that has been created through music has helped the students bridge the social gap that is so common in learning different kids.”

- New Horizon teacher 

Instrument Drive

Following the devastating wildfires of 2017, we partnered with Santa Rosa Symphony and Loud and Clear Music in an effort to collect instruments for those who lost them.


Over 250 instruments were collected and distributed to those affected.

This is now an ongoing program. 

”When Jackson started guitar lessons we hoped it would give him a connection to his dad who we had just lost, but it gave him so much more. It gave him a confidence that we hadn’t seen before. He had always been a very quiet/reserved kid, but after starting lessons I began to see his self esteem and confidence level rise. I saw a shy kid learn to open up and become more comfortable in personal and social settings. Now, when I see him during a performance I am blown away by how comfortable he looks and feels on stage. That gain in self worth is something my husband and I had worked so hard to bring to Jackson. I truly believe that given the opportunity to take private lessons with an amazing teacher helped us accomplish that goal. Something I’ll be forever grateful for.”  

- Deanna Mcginnis


To continue our work with these programs, we are relying on grants, donations and other volunteer help. Here is how you can help:


 We are driven to provide instruments to those in need, and have already received many generous donations from community members, anything from harmonicas and flutes to grand pianos, and all the guitars, drums, violins you can fit in between. 


Do you have an old instrument that

you might want to donate?  


We rely on donations to continue our work to offer free music lessons and groups to those in our community who need it.

Click the yellow button above to 

donate directly. Thank you!

Programs and Fundraising Goals

  • Free Lessons Program:  Our hope is to double our number of private lesson scholarships to 40.  Help us raise raise $20,000 to make this possible.

  • Music at the Living Room: The Living Room is a daytime shelter in Sonoma County that welcomes homeless and at-risk women and their children into a warm and safe environment.     


  • New Horizon SchoolNew Horizon School and Learning Center provides individual learning programs for learning different and dyslexic students. Help us double the outreach of this school program. 

We are so thankful and pleased to announce we received a $10,000 grant from Sonoma County Vintners Foundation, whose generous grants address our region’s most critical needs through their Community Grants Program. This funding will support our music programs at The Living Room.

We also received a $6,000 grant from Creative Sonoma’s Arts Education & Innovation Grant program.


This grant supports new and innovative ideas that engage under served Sonoma County students between 10 and 18.

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5910 Channel Drive, 

Santa Rosa, CA 95409

(707) 303-6482

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