PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Schools are constantly facing cuts to arts and music programs but a local, well-known musician is fighting that.
A program he started provides free musical instruments for students, even pianos and private lessons.
Heaven Fay Scroggins has been taking private piano lessons from Michael Allen Harrison for two years. She also has a piano at home — all at no cost.
“I like having a piano at home so when I want to play, I can just go and do it,” Scroggins said.
She’s part of the Play It Forward program, which Harrison founded with the goal of making music education accessible to everyone. It provides free lessons and instruments including pianos, which are costly to move.
Gently used pianos and other instruments are donated to the program.
“We get so many pianos,” Harrison said. “And we get so many good pianos.”
Play It Forward covers the cost and provides lessons at several locations in the Portland school district.
“That’s one of my best days of the week,” Harrison said. “I love the kids I teach every Monday.”
Harrison said learning to play and instrument fires up both sides of the brain and has been shown to help increase test scores in all subjects.
Scroggins said it’s a productive use of her time that she also enjoys.
“All kids want to do now is play video games, watch YouTube,” she said.
She’s wise beyond her years and will be playing at a gala Thursday night to raise money for the program.