Get Involved: Play It Forward-STL Encourages Music From the Heart

 In Culture, Feature

Play It Forward-STL puts instruments in the hands of local students and encourages them to find their musical voice.


When Samantha Fisher and Rebecca Brogan founded STLSound Magazine, they knew that their media outlet meant they had a platform to give back to the community and affect change. With the passing of beloved local musician John Rudebeck, who was a dear friend of Brogan’s, came the establishment of a memorial foundation in his name that would provide musical instruments, education, mentoring, performance opportunities and outreach to local youngsters with the formation of Play It Forward-STL, an arm of the John V. Rudebeck Foundation.

Due to difficult economic times, the magazine chose to cease printing a few years later, but the founders knew they still wanted to be a part of giving back to the music community in St. Louis. “With all of our resources, contacts and a solid reputation for our love of live music, we felt that instead of walking away, we would turn our efforts to providing music instead of promoting it, per se,” says Brogan.

Music Makes a Difference

There are dozens of studies that examine how musicality affects learning, and the consensus among educators and researchers is that music plays an important role in learning, language, memory and cognitive development. For example, a 10-year study involving 25,000 students shows that making music improves scores on standardized tests as well as in reading proficiency exams (James Catterall, UCLA, 1997).

“After we satisfy a quota for donated instruments, we intend to pair musicians to schools for in-school performances and lectures,” says Fisher regarding what’s next for Play It Forward-STL. “We also would like to start mentoring programs between the more affluent schools and the schools who are not as fortunate to receive funding or assistance. And we’re planning to take the program to other cities to place instruments in even more hands.”

Get Involved
Help by donating a new or gently used musical instrument (instruments can be dropped off at any Glik’s location), making a monetary donation on the Play It Forward-STL website or attending one of the organization’s benefit events. Brogan says that simply spreading the word can also make a difference. “Too much money is needed to effectively market this program—money that could be better spent buying, cleaning and repairing donated instruments,” she says. “We rely on word-of-mouth to generate interest in this grassroots organization.”

For more info on how you can get involved with the John V. Rudebeck Foundation and Play It Forward-STL, log on to



Play it Forward-STL

Keeping instruments in the hands of kids across STL



Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Play It Forward-STL

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