Playground Ensemble


Don’t play music at kids! Play music by kids, and with kids!

The Playground Ensemble is a group of professional musicians, composers, and music educators
dedicated to presenting music as a living art form. Through our outreach in schools, we hope to show young people that music can be vibrant, adventurous, and relevant to the world they live in. Our programs nurture students’ creative inner voices.

Current music standards emphasize creativity through composition and improvisation. We recognize that these skills have not traditionally been part of music teacher training. Playground Teaching Artists specialize in helping teachers address these standards by providing a variety of programs. Our offerings include in-class composition and improvisation activities, performances (often of student-created music) for school-wide assemblies, and professional development opportunities for teachers.

During the 2015–2016 season Playground musicians participated in 90 different educational events for more than 4,000 young people. Our biggest reward is helping students create and become active participants in the music of their time.


Young Composer’s Playground

Today’s young people should be writing for voice and for the instruments of the orchestra regardless of their background or training. They should learn that composers look just like they look, and do live right where they live.

Our multi-week Young Composers Playground offers kids a chance to learn to express themselves musically through musical storytelling and performance. Storytelling is an integral part of our program, and we work with individual schools to support their standards-based literacy needs. The Young Composers program ends with a recorded performance of student work performed by the musicians of the Playground. Click here for more details.

Download Teaching Materials From Our Internet Portal

Our teaching materials are available to educators even if you can’t bring us to yourschool. Our Internet portal gives teachers access to the materials needed for composition and music creation activities that can be used individually or in sequence.

Click here to access Young Composers Playground Portal. Keep checking back as we populate the portal with new material!


Soundpainting is a cross-disciplinary hand gesture language that allows students (and a composer/conductor called the “painter”) to create music on the spot. We bring Soundpainting to school assemblies or can provide a program over multiple visits. We begin with a short Soundpainting performance and then teach the painting gestures used to communicate the textures of musical sound. By the end of the session, students are leading the ensemble (and the audience) in a performance. Even the most conservative or resistant will give themselves over to this creative, collaborative experience. Click here for more details.

Found Sound Instrument Builder

Playground Teaching Artists often build their own instruments for performances. In that tradition, we work with schools to design and implement music-creation programs around students’ own found-sound instruments. The Found Sound Instrument Builder program is delivered over multiple visits, and ends with a joint performance by students and Playground Teaching Artists.

Living Music, Living Composer

The Playground presents music of our time, music that reflects our social and cultural diversity, and music that embraces innovation. We feature music composed by female composers, African-American composers, Hispanic composers, and composers living and working in Colorado. We also include music that features “found sound” percussion and new digital technologies, as well as music that highlights the relationships between music, poetry, and the visual arts. We want kids to see today’s music as something alive and relevant. Click here for more details.

Professional Development

Playground Teaching Artists work with classroom teachers to teach them how to implement our programs on their as well as and training for teachers in the use of music software and its implementation as part of classroom music creativity.

Is there a cost?

Yes, there is, but we have never turned down an education opportunity because of money. We often ask schools to meet us half way. Our education partners in Friends of Chamber Music are often willing to help sponsor DPS visits, so contact us and let’s talk.

Contact us at if you are interested in having our programs in your school.