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Carnegie Hall's Lullaby Project Receives Grant from William Penn Foundation to Expand Program to Philadelphia, Offering Parents the Opportunity to Write Personal Lullabies for Babies in Collaboration with Professional Artists

40 Lullaby Project Partnerships Nationwide and Abroad, Including New Partners in New Zealand, Chile, and Australia

This Spring, New Early Childhood Pilot Program Begins For New Parents and Babies in New York City

Lullaby Project

Carnegie Hall today announced that the Weill Music Institute’s (WMI) Lullaby Project has received a three-year grant from the William Penn Foundation to implement the program in Philadelphia. This spring, the Lullaby Project will pilot in Philadelphia. Carnegie Hall will join with Philadelphia nonprofit LiveConnections, which specializes in music education and community engagement, to launch the program with local partners including Esperanza and Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services and Health Annex who will tailor the program to respond to local needs of new parents and caregivers and their babies ages 12 to 24 months. Parents will be offerered a creative opportunity to communicate feelings, hopes, and dreams for their child, working side by side with professional musicians to write lullabies. Families are also encouraged to sing with their young children to further support parent-child bonding and early childhood development. The Lullaby Project aligns with the William Penn Foundation’s focus on supporting families and caregivers in their role as their children’s first teachers.

“Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) believes that everyone should have access to great music. We create meaningful experiences for parents and young children to come together through music making to help build a foundation for future success,” said Sarah Johnson, Chief Education Officer and Director of the WMI. “We are thrilled to receive funding from the William Penn Foundation to serve communities in Philadelphia as part of the Lullaby Project. The William Penn Foundation’s commitment to fostering education for all people aligns closely with the work we do in Lullaby. Writing a lullaby allows families to express their own wishes and dreams, love and hopes for their child, nurturing kids’ love of music while also building strong early communication skills and supporting parents in their role as their first teachers.”

By implementing the Lullaby Project in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, together with LiveConnections and community partners, will engage parents and families in musical activities that help develop skills in their children in the critical early language learning period. Carnegie Hall and LiveConnections will audition, train, and support local artists who will work with families to craft lullabies in tandem with other music learning projects. Throughout the pilot, Carnegie Hall will conduct extensive evaluations to determine the best way for the project to grow and evolve in Philadelphia as well as to sustain the project after the three-year grant period.

“We want all Philadelphia caregivers to have confidence in their ability to help very young children develop early language skills, especially through the rhyme and rhythm of children’s books, nursery rhymes, and lullabies,” said Elliot Weinbaum, Program Director at William Penn Foundation. “Music can be a powerful communal experience and a way to celebrate many cultures and traditions; the Lullaby Project taps into this and has been shown to use music successfully to engage caregivers in their children’s early learning and development. We are looking forward to Carnegie Hall sharing their expertise with partner organizations in Philadelphia to sustain this work for years to come.”

The Lullaby Project pairs new parents with professional artists to write personal lullabies for their babies, supporting maternal health, aiding child development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child. In New York City this year, the project will reach 300 families at 10 different sites, including healthcare settings, homeless shelters, high schools, foster care, and correctional facilities. Extending across the country and through several international programs, the Lullaby Project enables more than 40 national and international partner organizations to support families in their own communities, including work with partners in Australia, Greece, Italy, Canada, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. This spring, WMI is piloting a new early childhood program, to provide free music classes for new parents, in collaboration with New York City community centers, for families to incorporate music learning into their children’s lives.

The first Lullaby Project took place at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx in December 2011, and since then more than 2,000 families have written original songs for their children, many of which are available for listening and sharing at soundcloud.com/CarnegieHallLullaby. Lullabies have been written in over 20 different languages and a wide range of musical styles, reflecting the diverse backgrounds of families that participate in the program.

In 2018, Decca Gold (Universal Music Group) released Hopes & Dreams: The Lullaby Project, an album that features original lullabies written by workshop participants and performed by major artists, including Fiona Apple, the Brentano String Quartet, Lawrence Brownlee, Rosanne Cash, Joyce DiDonato, Janice Freeman, Rhiannon Giddens, Angélique Kidjo, Patti LuPone, Natalie Merchant, Dianne Reeves, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Pretty Yende, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The recording was produced by Glen Roven, Ira Yuspeh, and Mitch Yuspeh. Proceeds from the album benefit the original songwriters and support the Lullaby Project.

Current national and international Lullaby Project partners include:

317 Main Community Music Center (Yarmouth, ME)
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, Greece)
Associazione Musicians for Human Rights (Rome, Italy)
Austin Classical Guitar (Austin, TX)
Bay Chamber Concerts (Rockport, ME)
The Cleveland Orchestra (Cleveland, Ohio)
University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO)
Connecting the Dots in Music (Adelaide, Australia)
The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall (Toronto, Canada)
El Sistema Greece (Athens, Greece)
Fèis Rois (Dingwall, UK)
Flint School of Performing Arts (Flint, MI)
Grandes Oyentes (Madrid, Spain)
Harbor House (Madison, WI)
Humanidad Compartida (Santiago, Chile)
Instruments of Change (Vancouver, Canada)
Irene Taylor Trust (London, UK)
Keys to Life (Hiland Mountain Correctional Center) (Eagle River, AK)
Korea Arts and Culture Education Service (Seoul, Korea)
Kultur i Väst (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Luna Tierra Birth Center (El Paso, TX)
Melodic Connections (Cincinnati, OH)
Memorial University (St. John’s, Canada)
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (Milwaukee, WI)
New Zealand Opera (Auckland, New Zealand)
University of North Carolina School of the Arts (Winston-Salem, NC)
Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago, IL)
Operasonic (Newport, UK)
Oregon Symphony (Portland, OR)
Overture Center for the Arts (Madison, WI)
Palaver Strings (Portland, ME)
Reno Philharmonic / Note-Able Music Therapy Services (Reno, NV)
SCL Health (Billings, MT)
Scrag Mountain Music (Marshfield, VT)
Scully's Singing Stories (Geelong, Australia)
Seattle Symphony Orchestra (Seattle, WA)
Superar (Bratislava, Slovakia)
Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)
VocalEssence (Minneapolis, MN)
Walla Walla Symphony (Walla Walla, WA)
Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)


To better understand the effect of music in early childhood development, Carnegie Hall has commissioned two research papers from Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, an expert in the field. The first, titled "Why Making Music Matters: Singing, Playing, Moving, and Sharing in the Early Years," points to several key reasons why investing in children early and often is critical to healthy development and a successful future—and demonstrates that music can play a role in everyday interactions that support our next generation. The most recent paper, "Lullaby: Being Together, Being Well," takes a closer look at how and why lullabies make a difference. The research highlights how the Lullaby Project not only helps families come together and imagine a positive future for children, but how, in some cases, writing a lullaby can support a much longer process of connecting and communicating, resonating with parents, grandparents, musicians, staff, and community members.


About the William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.5 billion.

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 600,000 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 half a million 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 115 orchestras in the US from Alaska to Puerto Rico, as well as internationally in Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Kenya, and Spain.

For more information, please visit: carnegiehall.org/education


Lead support for the Lullaby Project in Philadelphia is provided by the William Penn Foundation.

Lead support is provided by Nicola and Beatrice Bulgari, and an anonymous donor.

Major funding is provided by Ameriprise Financial, MetLife Foundation, and Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

Additional support has been provided by JMCMRJ Sorrell Foundation, and Mary Anne Huntsman Morgan and The Huntsman Foundation.

Public support has been provided by the NYC Health+Hospitals Arts in Medicine Department, with support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, and the Department of Correction in partnership with the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

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


Image at top of release by © Jennifer Taylor

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