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The Diller-Quaile Early Childhood Music Library

The DQ Library is a collaborative, accessible web-based resource for EC professionals who want to make beautiful music with young children.

Photo of Caroline Moore
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Written by

Name or Organization

The Diller-Quaile School of Music, Inc.


The Diller-Quaile School of Music is located in New York, NY. However, our idea is a web-based resource that could be accessed nationwide.

What is your stage of development?

  • Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD


  • Non - Profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

The Diller-Quaile Early Childhood Music Library aims to provide teachers and caregivers with a collaborative, accessible, online resource that supports the development of dynamic, inclusive, age-appropriate music programs within schools, centers, home day care settings, and other EC institutions.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

Music making supports physical, cognitive, social-emotional, and aesthetic development in early childhood. However, most EC centers do not employ a music teacher, and many caregivers feel ill equipped to select music curriculum or to implement music experiences with the children in their care. The DQ Library supports any teacher or caregiver, in any setting or with any level of experience, as they develop their ability to facilitate beautiful music with children. This resource supports children’s development, and has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of care settings.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

The DQ Library is a membership-based online resource for EC professionals, music teachers, parents and families, and anyone who wants to make beautiful music with young children. The library includes: - Scores of traditional and original music, with information about the song’s origin, history, translation – Aesthetically beautiful recordings for streaming, produced by professional musicians and expert early childhood music educators – Research and pedagogical information regarding young children’s musical development – Research-based music lesson plans for each EC age group: infants, babies, toddlers, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, that are flexible for use in a wide variety of settings, prepared by credentialed and experienced early childhood pedagogues – Video webinars of master teachers implementing curriculum with young children, for use by administrators for faculty development, or as resources for teachers or caregivers – Online community for early childhood educators, music teachers, and other users who wish to discuss and deepen their understanding of early childhood music

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

There are an increasing number of EC centers nationwide, and the majority of early childhood aged children attend some sort of outside-of-the-home care. The experiences of children in care can be greatly enhanced by positive music making experiences. However, in pre- or in-service EC teacher preparation, music is rarely included, and there is a lack of necessary music resources that are flexible for use in any EC setting and that are also accessible to EC professionals of any experience level.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Teachers come to teaching music with a range of experiences and abilities; resources, in order to be effective and useful, are strongest when they are customizable. Early childhood centers have a range of materials, space considerations, and economic circumstances – all barriers that can determine the types or degree of music activities that can take place in their classrooms. As such, The Diller-Quaile Early Childhood Library is centered on the principles of: Flexibility: Each user will be able to select and implement curriculum that best suits their students’ cultures, experiences, and abilities, as well as the spaces and materials that they have. Affordability: Platform membership will be affordable to schools, day care centers, Head Start Programs, Pre-K classrooms, home-based child care centers, or social service agencies with any budget level. Community: The Library will incorporate diverse musical material that is inclusive of many cultures, providing opportunities to explore the world through musical experiences and to incorporate the culture and interests of the children, their families, and their communities. Beauty and Artistry: In making beautiful music with children in their earliest years, we are developing musicians, artists, listeners, and creators. The materials, including recordings and visuals, will be of the highest artistic quality and sophistication. Knowledge: Adults who make music with children are more successful when they develop their understanding of young children’s musical development and how to choose and implement age-appropriate material. We aim to connect users with research, resources, training opportunities, and support that will enable them to develop as musicians and as music educators. We anticipate the following phases for Implementation: Phase One: Development of materials (scores, recordings, lesson plans, webinars, etc.). This has been underway for many years (since the 1960s), and will continue for the duration of the platform’s existence. Phase Two: Development of online platform, and piloting with users and gathering user feedback, and restructuring platform based on that feedback. Phase Three: Launch of the Library to the wider community, including the sale of user and institutional memberships. Phase Four: Ongoing maintenance, including web management, and the continuing production of materials.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

The primary benefits of the Library’s resources will be to early childhood teachers, caregivers, and all those who work with young children. Users will be able to access music materials easily, along with the support they need to implement music activities that are aesthetically beautiful and age-appropriate for infants, babies, toddlers, as well as 2-, 3-, 4-year-olds. As a result, all children in care stand to benefit from the Library’s resources, as they will experience an enhanced musical environment, increased opportunities for positive peer-based music making, and increased opportunities for development through music. The benefits of increased and enhanced music experiences in center-based care can also potentially result in a deepening of community both within the center and without, by providing opportunities for cultural connections and increased parental involvement through music experiences. Families may choose to utilize music materials at home, or to participate in the centers' musical activities.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

Diller-Quaile has been a leader in EC Music since the 1960s, when we became one of the first music schools to offer classes specifically designed for young children. We began offering EC Music courses for teachers and caregivers in the early 1990s. Participants in these courses have come from all five boroughs of New York City, effectively helping hundred of teachers to develop dynamic music programs within their schools and centers. Participant surveys have shown that those who have taken our EC Music courses “strongly agree” that the materials were effective, useful, and easily integrated into the classroom, and the participants responded that they were making more, and better, music with their children as a result of their work with Diller-Quaile. Diller-Quaile has also been approved as a provider of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education by the New York Education Department, and our Early Childhood Music courses have been evaluated and approved for recommended undergraduate and graduate credit by the University of the State of New York, New York State Board of Regents. Our experience and deep understanding of EC music education as well as the effective development of EC teachers makes Diller-Quaile uniquely qualified and poised to develop this new resource for schools and centers across the nation. The Diller-Quaile Library could potentially be accessed and used by any teacher, caregiver, or adult who wishes to make music with young children.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

All children benefit from quality music experiences, but often schools or centers with limited resources are not able to pursue additional music training for their teachers, nor are they able to access music materials of high quality. We believe that children’s access to quality music experiences should not be limited due to economic circumstances. Therefore, one of our principles in developing the Diller-Quaile Library is: Affordability: Platform membership will be affordable to schools, day care centers, Head Start Programs, Pre-K classrooms, home-based child care centers, or social service agencies with any budget level. In order to best ensure affordability, we propose tiers of membership to the Library, where teachers may access individual resources for either a small fee or for free, or could use an affordably priced institutional membership for unlimited access.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

The Diller-Quaile Early Childhood Music Library is innovative in that it delivers music material that is flexible, adaptable, affordable, and beautiful. We believe that this platform offers an innovative solution to effective delivery of early childhood music content that has the potential to maximize every child’s music experience in any type of school or center. Other Early Childhood Music curriculums and resources for teachers are expensive, limited in content, or lacking in useful supports that enable users to implement the material successfully. Many EC music curriculums are standardized, and are therefore not applicable to all EC settings. Additionally, many programs assume a specific level of musical skill among the teachers who will use the material, which limits participation from those who either have more or less musical experience. Lastly, many of the music materials that are created with young children in mind are lacking in musical complexity and artistry. In contrast, Diller-Quaile’s Library offers affordable access to materials that are adaptable to any setting and to caregivers of any background or level of experience with music. Our materials, recordings, and video resources are produced with the highest quality of musicianship, incorporating beautiful music from around the world. Our lesson plans are research-based, and have been tested through our nearly 50 years of experience in Early Childhood Music.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

As a web-based resource, we believe that The Diller-Quaile Library has the potential to be accessed by any early childhood day care center, preschool, Head Start program, social service agency, PreK or 3-K classroom, or home-based child care nationwide or beyond. In the short-term, our initial hurdle before scaling further is to ensure that we have sufficient materials prepared for launch – we have been accumulating materials for many years, and are now primarily focused on editing, compiling, and recording these materials to ensure that we offer a wide variety of resources that are appropriate for every age group within early childhood. We anticipate that the accumulation and addition of materials to the library will be ongoing. We also anticipate that long-term sustainability will require web hosting with sufficient server space to contain a wide variety of materials, recordings, and videos. As a non-profit organization, we propose to support the ongoing sustainability of the Library through fundraising as well as through revenue from user memberships.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

Diller-Quaile has an extensive faculty and staff, as well as the knowledge and experience, to compile and to create the materials, recordings, videos, and other resources that the Library will contain. We have compiling and testing these materials for many years, and are now actively engaged with packaging these resources for the online platform. We also have access to web developers and experts in the field who will help to create the platform itself; at this stage the platform is in the development stage and we are planning layout and the user experience. We hope to launch with test users in the next year, followed by a launch to the general public.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

We anticipate that our business model is both sustainable and realistic. The initial launch of the platform will be supported by fundraising and the school’s resources. Over time, the Library will be maintained by continual fundraising and by the sale of individual and institutional user memberships. We believe that the interest in this platform will be widespread, and that we will be able to competitively price usage to ensure that it will be cost effective for centers and schools of any economic circumstances. We also believe that we will be able to show quantitative positive results of the users' experiences, which will enable us to effectively fundraise to sustain the platform.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

Human centered design is at the center of our vision for the Library and how users will incorporate the Library’s resources into their classrooms and into their work with young children. Since the inception of our teacher training programs at Diller-Quaile, we have incorporated participant feedback, as well as the most current empirical music education research, into the continued development of our materials and teacher development offerings. Additionally, we have tested our music curriculum and techniques with children from birth to age six for nearly fifty years. Young children’s musical development is at the heart of our approach at Diller-Quaile, and is essential to our belief that everyone has the capability to develop as a musician. The children’s responses to classroom music making, as we as our continual assessment of our curriculum and implementation techniques, ensure that we are offering material and programs of the highest quality. During the testing, launch, and maintenance of the online Library, we plan to continue to incorporate user feedback to ensure that we remain responsive to the field. We anticipate that this could include focus groups and surveys of existing and potential users.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

The Diller-Quaile School of Music was founded in 1920 by pianists Angela Diller and Elizabeth Quaile. The School’s founders believed that the capacity for understanding and creating music exists in everyone; it was essential that their music school provide a dynamic and well-rounded experience not just for select students, but for all. The first teachers at the School were selected from the two founders’ adult pupils. As the School grew, so did the need for more teachers, and formal teacher training courses evolved. Recognizing a need, Diller-Quaile’s Teacher Training Department expanded in the 1990s to include programs for early childhood professionals. Today, the School offers comprehensive teacher development in music for EC teachers, caregivers, and elementary general and music teachers. These offerings include semester-long courses and Certificates in Early Childhood Music, as well as individual single- or multi-hour workshops. In addition to developing materials for teachers, Angela Diller and Elizabeth Quaile authored many books, which have sold more than two million copies worldwide. We have continued Diller-Quaile’s tradition of innovative publishing with recordings, books, and teacher guides, including the popular Songs for Singing and Sharing series for young children. Today, The Diller-Quaile School of Music is a thriving community music school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, comprised of the following departments: Early Childhood, Instrumental and Vocal, Adult, The Diller-Quaile Institute (Teacher Training, Research, and Publications) and NYC Community Programs. Diller-Quaile annually enrolls approximately 1,000 students of all ages, and the School’s extensive Community Programs bring the spirit and mission of Diller-Quaile to approximately 1,000 individuals throughout New York City. The Early Childhood Program—instituted in the early 1960s—offers an extensive selection of courses for introducing small groups of young children and their families to the joys of music and art. By engaging in developmentally appropriate group music experiences, students build the foundation for a comprehensive music education and the tools to express themselves artistically. Key to the Diller-Quaile approach is the collaboration among teachers and students, which creates a unique child-centered musical environment within each class session. Diller-Quaile is proud to be a leader in Early Childhood Music Education. We know that the needs and resources of early childhood institutions vary, but that dynamic music experiences can improve the quality of any environment where young children are served. With the launch of The Diller-Quaile Early Childhood Music Library, we are prepared to combine our nearly 100-year history of innovation and effective teacher development into a resource that will be accessible to schools and centers nationwide.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

Diller-Quaile’s faculty and staff have the experience that is necessary to compile and create the Library’s materials, recordings, videos, and other resources, and are now actively engaged with packaging these resources for the online platform. We plan to collaborate with web developers who will help to create the platform itself; we may wish to also partner with those who can advise us during the marketing phase, once we have completed our testing phase and are fully prepared for launch.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

We would be interested in collaborating with individuals or organizations that have this type of web design experience, particularly those who have experience with user-directed platforms and membership-based sites. We would also be interested in collaborating with individuals who have expertise with nationwide marketing, particularly in the education sector.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

We invite you to visit us at, where you can read more about our School's history, mission, core values, and programs.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Valeria Fernandez

Hello Caroline,
I am writing to you because I also took part in the Open Ideo challenge with a project called YUUM, teaching English to young children and parents in Mexico. I would love to be able to have a chance to talk to you , I have an idea I would love share and see if we can work together. I will be in NY beginning on the 6 of September. Let me know if this is possible. Valeria