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Kidznotes Awarded Carnegie Hall’s “PlayUSA” Grant


Date: July 26, 2017 | Contact: Eli Rumpf | Tel: 212-903-9752 | E-mail:
$430,000 in Grants Awarded to Music Education Programs in
Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas

Growing PlayUSA Network Committed to Increasing Access to
Instrumental Music Instruction for Underserved K-12 Students Nationwide

Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) today announced the 2017-2018 grant recipients for PlayUSA, a program that supports a wide range of instrumental music education projects across the United States, all specifically designed to reach low-income and underserved students on a local level. For its third year, Carnegie Hall has selected 13 organizations, including 6 new partners and 7 returning organizations from the 2016-2017 season, for a total of $430,000 in grants. In addition to financial support, the grantees join a nationwide network of innovative organizations committed to providing transformative music education opportunities for youth across the country:

New PlayUSA Grantees:

  • El Sistema Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Enriching Lives Through Music (San Rafael, CA)
  • INTAKE Music (Stamford, CT)
  • Kidznotes (Durham, NC)
  • Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (Kalamazoo, MI)
  • Opportunity Music Project (New York, NY)

Returning PlayUSA Grantees:

  • Atlanta Music Project (Atlanta, GA)
  • Community MusicWorks (Providence, RI)
  • Music for Life (New Orleans, LA)
  • The People’s Music School (Chicago, IL)
  • Scrollworks (Birmingham, AL)
  • Tocando (El Paso, Texas)
  • Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, NY)

New partners will receive one year of funding, and returning partners will receive a two-year grant, both of which include consultation with Carnegie Hall staff to help problem-solve, address challenges, and build on best practices, training and professional development for teachers, including access to online resources and monthly webinars. Educators and administrators from each PlayUSA organization will convene at Carnegie Hall in February 2018 to meet each other and explore teaching practice alongside Carnegie Hall teaching artists. PlayUSA grants may be used to underwrite teaching fees for music instruction; purchase or rental of musical instruments as well as instrumental repair; and other programmatic costs.

“We are excited to expand PlayUSA this year, supporting 13 innovative organizations around the country that are bringing high-quality music education to students who may not otherwise have access,” said Sarah Johnson, Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “During the 2017-2018 season, we will be focusing on improving teaching practice, making sure that artists and educators have the training and resources needed to provide a meaningful music education for their students. The PlayUSA network continues to grow, made up of a strong community of organizations across the nation, and we look forward to further collaboration in the future so that we can learn from one another and make note of successes and milestones achieved that can be shared across the field.”

PlayUSA is part of a growing set of Carnegie Hall initiatives that have expanded beyond New York City to reach students and teachers nationwide. The Link Up program now serves more than 400,000 students and teachers around the globe through more than 100 partner orchestras, and Musical Explorers for grades K-2 reaches thousands more in New York City and at multiple partner sites. The Summer Music Educators Workshop also brings together over 125 teachers from across the country at Carnegie Hall each year for intensive sessions focused on ensemble instruction and classroom strategies. PlayUSA also complements NYO2, an expansion of Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) that gives young American instrumentalists from communities underserved by and underrepresented in the classical orchestral field the opportunity to study with leading professional musicians and meet talented peers from across the country.
About the PlayUSA Grantees
El Sistema Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Launched in September 2013, El Sistema Oklahoma (ESO) has grown rapidly into a successful and unique afterschool program that serves more than 200 public school children in the heart of Oklahoma City. Support from PlayUSA in the coming year will help ESO develop a robust professional development infrastructure for faculty, emphasizing aural-based beginning instruction and transition to reading notation, student-centered instruction, effective classroom management, and culturally responsive pedagogy.

Enriching Lives Through Music (San Rafael, California)
Enriching Lives Through Music (ELM) inspires underserved youth from the largely Latino immigrant Canal neighborhood of San Rafael to envision and achieve lifelong success emotionally, socially, and academically through music education, performance, and engagement. Support from PlayUSA will help ELM start a viola class and develop a wind program, provide an extra day of rehearsals for ELM’s advanced ensemble, and expand opportunities for professional development for teaching artists.

INTAKE Music (Stamford, Connecticut)
INTAKE is a music education and youth development organization that aims to make music education accessible, relevant, and inclusive by emphasizing multiculturalism and native instruments. Using bilingual music instruction on classical instruments as well as cross-cultural repertoire and instrumentation, INTAKE’s programs reflect the true composition of the Latino community in Stamford. Support from PlayUSA will allow INTAKE to add five afterschool Native Instrument Academy classes, serving 25–35 additional students, as well as provide professional development opportunities for staff.

Kidznotes (Durham, North Carolina)
Kidznotes’ mission is to change the lives of youth in the Triangle region of East Durham and Southeast Raleigh through participation in youth orchestras, bands, and choirs, with instruments and classes offered entirely free of charge. PlayUSA will help Kidznotes scale its evidence-based El Sistema–inspired program to serve an additional 160 students, as well as develop an engaging middle school program.

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
For nearly 100 years, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO) has performed high-quality symphonic music, fostering tomorrow’s audiences, elevating the careers of Michigan musicians, and contributing to the vibrant educational environment of Kalamazoo. Through an equity-oriented lens, the KSO seeks to apply the unique and positive power of music learning to improve the lives of children and families through impactful partnerships within the social and educational sectors. PlayUSA funding will support a middle school expansion of the Kalamazoo Kids In Tune (KKIT) program and help establish Orchestra Rouh, a new pilot program for Syrian refugee children. KKIT is a partnership of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo, and Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Opportunity Music Project (New York, New York)
The mission of Opportunity Music Project is to create a community where all children—regardless of economic background—can pursue their passion for music and gain the valuable personal and collaborative skills associated with the rigors of learning an instrument. With a new double bass cohort program starting this September, funds received from PlayUSA will cover the educational costs associated with the addition of 10 new students, as well as instruments and supply purchases.
About the PlayUSA Returning Grantees
Atlanta Music Project (Atlanta, Georgia)
The Atlanta Music Project’s mission is to inspire social change by providing Atlanta’s youth the opportunity to learn and perform music in orchestras and choirs. Founded in 2010, the Atlanta Music Project (AMP) provides intensive, tuition-free music education to underserved youth right in their neighborhood. Funding from PlayUSA will allow new students to take part in the program, support the launch of a new master class series, provide professional development opportunities for teaching artists, and subsidize instrument repairs and replacements.

Community MusicWorks (Providence, Rhode Island)
Founded in 1997, Community MusicWorks’ (CMW) mission is to transform the lives of children, families, and musicians through chamber music education and performance in the most diverse and economically challenged urban neighborhoods of Providence. Last season, funding from PlayUSA helped launch a new cohort of 25 beginner-level students for a Daily Orchestra Program. Continued support will allow CMW to maintain this group, while improving the quality of instructional practice across the program, and strengthen the link between music education and social justice. Professional development will also be offered to staff, and alumni will be encouraged to stay involved in the program as mentors and teachers.

Music for Life (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Previously selected for PlayUSA’s pilot year and second season, Music for Life—from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO)—offers youth in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans the opportunity to study music intensively throughout the year in private and small-group settings with LPO musicians. Funding from PlayUSA will support teaching and performance fees for 10 musician mentors, reaching 120 participants at three program sites in the upcoming year, in addition to professional development, instrument repair and service, and other program costs.

The People’s Music School (Chicago, Illinois)
The People’s Music School, based in Chicago, is the only completely tuition-free music school of its kind in the country. The school is wholly devoted to increasing access to all the artistic, scholastic, behavioral, and societal benefits of music. Last season, funding from PlayUSA supported the growth and expansion of a new band program at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Chicago’s South Side to celebrate the city’s rich musical heritage and serve as a cultural asset for the community. Continued support will make it possible for more students to take part in the program, which includes a rigorous multi-hour per week curriculum that consists of instrumental instruction, ensemble group experience, music theory, and performance.

Scrollworks (Birmingham, Alabama)
The mission of Scrollworks is to make music instruction and ensemble playing available to all, thereby developing character and sense of community. Young people of diverse racial, social, cultural, and economic backgrounds are encouraged to explore and cultivate their musical talent and contribute to Alabama’s musical culture, including those with disabilities. Building on PlayUSA’s support from last season—which emphasized creating a culture of practicing among students—Scrollworks will make entry-level music classes, youth orchestra, and private lessons entirely free of charge this coming season. PlayUSA funding will also support a new intermediate instructional level for string and wind ensembles.

Tocando (El Paso, Texas)
Previously selected for PlayUSA’s pilot year and 2016–2017 season, Tocando is the most recent education and outreach program of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Inspired by Venezuela’s highly successful El Sistema program, Tocando (“to play”) is designed to engage and empower disconnected youth at Title 1 elementary schools through intensive music instruction, academic tutoring, and performance opportunities. Funding will help to expand programming at a new middle school campus, allow continued support for beginning and advanced classes at the elementary level, and provide professional development workshops for teaching artists.

Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York)
The Orchestra of St. Luke’s is a gathering of outstanding musicians whose purpose is to bring classical music and the communication that is unique to music to a broad audience through performance and education. Funding from PlayUSA will subsidize new beginner strings classes for Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL), support a new teaching artist roster, create meaningful opportunities for family engagement through a parent committee, and help to launch a commissioning program.
About Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute
Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education, playing a central role in fulfilling the Hall’s mission of making great music accessible to as many people as possible. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, WMI’s programs are designed to inspire audiences of all ages, nurture tomorrow’s musical talent, and harness the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. The Weill Music Institute generates new knowledge through original research and is committed to giving back to its community and the field, sharing an extensive range of online music education resources and program materials for free with teachers, orchestras, arts organizations, and music lovers worldwide. More than half a million people each year engage in WMI’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall. This includes more than 400,000 students and teachers worldwide who participate in WMI’s Link Up music education program for students in grades 3 through 5, made possible through Carnegie Hall partnerships with over 100 orchestras in the US, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Kenya, Puerto Rico, and Spain.

For more information, please visit:


Lead support for PlayUSA is provided by the Fund II Foundation.

The Weill Music Institute’s programs are made available to a nationwide audience, in part, by an endowment grant from the Citi Foundation.

Photo at top of release by Jennifer Taylor.



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