Special Reports

MA Top 30 Professional: Tiffany Ortiz

December 5, 2023 | By Hannah Edgar

Director, Early Childhood Programs
Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute

On October 7, hundreds gathered on West 57th Street in Manhattan, one of New York’s many celebrations during this, the 50th-anniversary year of hip hop. Two things about this particular occasion stood out, however. First, most of the attendees, including the DJs and the rappers, were between the ages of three and ten. Second, it took place at Carnegie Hall—not exactly known internationally as a cradle of rap.

To Tiffany Ortiz, though, that was nothing out of the ordinary. Carnegie Hall has been hosting themed Family Days like this one since 2014. In addition to its vast, in-school music education program, it also offers interactive concerts for babies and group music classes to small children and their caretakers. And it produces an online singalong series for children. Did we mention that all of these are free?

“What we heard from people was, ‘We really would love to have more music activities in our community, but either they’re nonexistent or they’re not affordable,’” Ortiz says. “We really made it a mission to provide free programs so that families can learn about music in a range of ways.”

Ortiz began working for Carnegie Hall right out of college, in 2011. When she first started, as an administrative assistant for its community programs, she was returning to home turf; Ortiz grew up in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with specializations in communications and music—Ortiz is a singer-songwriter, though she admits that work keeps her too busy these days—and found her happy place in Carnegie Hall’s family programs department.

The Lullaby Project, which gives parents and parents-to-be the opportunity to compose original lullabies with the help of a professional musician, was just getting off the ground when Ortiz arrived. It started as a collaboration with the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. By 2016, Ortiz was managing the entire initiative. Under her leadership, the Lullaby Project grew to encompass 50 partnerships globally—mostly with social service organizations, shelters, and hospitals—and serve about 800 families per year.

Now, as director of all early childhood programs, she remains motivated by her commitment to make music education available to all, regardless of class, neighborhood, and even age. Ortiz’s projects don’t just give families and children activities to bond over. As she notes, they empower parents to become “the first music teachers for their children.” That’s music to our ears.



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