Interview with Play It Again, Ithaca Coordinator on Donating Musical Instruments

Dust off that Musical Instrument and Donate it to “Play it Again, Ithaca”

Q & A with Suzanne Snedeker, Coordinator

How long have you been the Coordinator for “Play it Again, Ithaca” (PIAI)?

This will be my 6th year as coordinator for the musical instrument recycling program of the Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG).

How many instruments have been donated since you started as Coordinator?

As of the end of the summer of 2018, 108 instruments have been donated since I started in the fall of 2013.

Why do you volunteer for the “Play it Again, Ithaca” program?

It might seem odd that someone who didn’t have a piano lesson until she was 54 years old would be involved in a musical instrument recycling program. I grew up in a school system that didn’t have a strong music program, and the cost of buying an instrument was beyond my parent’s budget. In contrast, our son really benefited from the strong music education program and mentorship he received in the Ithaca City School District (ICSD). I believe in the FABG philosophy of “all the arts for all the kids”. The “Play it Again, Ithaca” program helps remove barriers by helping more children have access to a musical instrument.

How do you donate instruments to the “Play it Again, Ithaca” program?

It’s quite easy. Send an email to and put “instrument donation” in the subject line. Donors are contacted by a FABG volunteer, and fill out a brief “Musical Instrument Donation Form”. A mutually convenient time is set up when the instrument and form can be dropped off at my home. The big plus for the donor is that the value of their instrument is tax deductable. Donors receive a “Donation Acknowledgement Letter” that can be used for tax purposes. We take care of the rest, including arranging needed repairs and bringing refurbished instruments to the ICSD.

What kinds of instruments do you accept?

Any instrument found in a school band or orchestra is welcomed as a donation. We also accept some acoustic and electric guitars. We accept all sizes (like ½ , ¾ and full-sized violins or cellos) of string instruments.

Are there any instruments that you’ve never received?

We’ve never received a double bass, piccolo, bassoon, bass clarinet, English horn, tuba, tympani (kettledrum), or soprano saxophone. Hope there is a donor, or two, out there with some of these instruments.

How much did you spend on repairs last year?

Last year, repair costs (professionally done through Hickey’s Music Center), totaled just over $1,525.00. Repair costs can range widely, from just replacing a string or two on a violin, to replacing all the pads (a total “set up”) and ultrasonic cleaning for a saxophone. Restoring double reed instruments (like oboes) also involves a lot of labor. We do get advice from Hickey’s staff, and occasionally, I think only twice, we decided not to repair an instrument because the estimated repair cost was far above its value. We really appreciate their expert advice.

What happens to the instruments?

The FABG is an affiliate of the not-for-profit “Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI)”. As a not-for-profit, IPEI can give the refurbished instruments as a “grant” to the ICSD. The refurbished instruments become a part of the ICSD’s permanent collection of musical instruments that are loaned for free to students in the district’s music programs. It’s a real win-win partnership with the community donating used instruments that are gathering dust, to being able to give refurbished instruments to the district so they literally can be ‘played again’.

Are you going to expand the program in any way?

I hope to do a lot more outreach this year to increase awareness of the need for the donation of more musical instruments. We are also working toward having a “Donation Day” in the spring of 2019.

What’s your message to those with unused musical instruments?

Why have an instrument stand idle when it could be played again by a child? Get it out of your closet, or from under your bed, or from that shelf in the attic or garage! Dust it off, and donate it to “Play it Again, Ithaca”!

To donate an instrument, email with “instrument donation” in the subject line

Learn more about the FABG at: