• PlayUSA

    Carnegie Hall’s PlayUSA supports partner organizations across the country that offer instrumental music education programs to low-income and underserved K–12 students. These organizations receive funding, as well as training and professional development for teachers and arts administrators, in addition to guidance from Carnegie Hall staff to help address challenges and build on best practices. 

  • PlayUSA (Jennifer Taylor)
    Photography by Jennifer Taylor

  • Timeline

    The 2018–2019 PlayUSA application will be available in January 2018.

  • New 2017–2018 Partners

    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.

    Returning 2017–2018 Partners

    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.

  • Contact Information


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

    Fund II Foundation logo  

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

  • Map of PlayUSA Partners