Student Spotlight: Sam


Rock to the Future firmly believes arts programs are a necessary element of a well-rounded curriculum. Not only do we offer free music education, we offer a safe and supportive environment for our students to learn and succeed despite life’s many challenges. Sam Villanueva, 15 years old, is one of our many students who has benefited from our multi-dimensional program.

Sam’s musical abilities have grown tremendously at Rock to the Future. He began with guitar 4 years ago and switched to his preferred instrument, piano, after 3 years. Although Sam joined at 11 years old, his love for music began at an even earlier age. Growing up in a very musical family, he was exposed to a variety of artists and genres. He names his grandfather (Pop) and uncle, both self taught musicians, as his biggest musical influences. A fanatical Beatles fan, Sam’s grandfather would often teach him parts of his favorite songs. Unfortunately Sam’s grandfather passed away, but he left Sam a lasting passion for music.

Although Sam misses his grandfather greatly, he finds comfort in one of his grandfather’s favorite songs, “Strawberry Fields” by the Beatles. Played at Pop’s funeral, the song has a strong sentimental value. “I feel like when I listen to it the memories we shared with that song are still there.” Through music, Sam is able to celebrate his grandfather’s memory and maintain a positive outlook.

Music has clearly given Sam an outlet for creativity and expression. And when Sam has a difficult transition to middle school, Rock to the Future was there to offer academic, music, and social support. Sam continued with his appreciation for Rock to the Future and voiced his concerns that many Philadelphia schools do not offer enough arts programs. “It’s a good program because of all the budget cuts in schools and all. A lot of people do love music but don’t really have places to go. Things they don’t consider curricular are the first to get cut.”

You can give the gift of music to students like Sam by supporting Rock to the Future and our mission of providing free, contemporary music education for underserved Philadelphia youth. Give the gift of music today to inspire a youth for a brighter tomorrow!


Sam's guitar playing days. Since then he has added piano to his repertoire. He has come so far!