Mission & History


Play On Philly provides underserved children in Philadelphia a transformative music education experience that develops and inspires the behaviors and personal skills needed for a successful life.

About Us

Play On Philly (POP) provides high-quality music education to students, who would typically lack access, as a vehicle for life skills and academic achievement. We provide 2½ hours of music instruction and ensemble practice every day after school and over 25 performance opportunities throughout the year. Students range from kindergarten to 12th grade and they are loaned an orchestral instrument. POP is dedicated to continued evaluation of our impact on academics and executive functioning. Our students score ten points higher on standardized test and have improved behavior and study skills. We cultivate musical excellence, lifelong skills and confidence.

Established in 2011 at St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia, POP started with 110 youth, ages six to thirteen, with the goal of making a significant and sustaining impact on their lives. In 2012, POP established its second site at Freire Charter Middle School expanding its reach to 250 students. In fall of 2015, we added our POP Academy program which welcomes high schoolers from across Philadelphia. By expanding gradually, the program is able to stay flexible to curriculum adjustments and responsive to community needs. We strive to engage the entire community through partnerships, community events, and a season of thirty performances in venues across the Philadelphia region.

Programmatic Goals

Provide high quality in-and after-school music education and performance opportunities to students who otherwise wouldn’t have it as a means of lifelong skills and deepen Play On Philly’s organizational impact. Students will develop:

  • Goal-directed behavior and skills that increase academic and social success, as tracked by independent consulting firm WolfBrown using methodology that includes comparison group of students not in programs and validated measures that test students’ executive functions;
  • Academic motivation, achievement, and school attendance, as measured by academic grades and attendance data provided by schools; and
  • High level musical knowledge and performance skills, which are assessed in bi-annual juries conducted by POP Teaching Artists as well as through recitals and performances.


Play On, Philly! (POP) provides intensive music education to K-12 students, who would typically lack access, as a vehicle for life skills and academic achievement

For 2½ hours every day, students enjoy instrument instruction and ensemble practice completely tuition-free