People in 750 cities and 120 countries celebrated Make Music Day on June 21. The free worldwide festival, which originated in France where it is known as Fête de la Musique, encourages everyone to get out and play music regardless of skill level, instrument, or style.
“The really special thing about Make Music Day is that it’s open to everyone,” says Aaron Friedman, executive director of the Make Music Alliance. “It’s for absolutely anyone who has a song in their heart and wants to make music.”
In the United States, the Make Music movement began with Make Music New York in 2007. This year more than 4,400 concerts took place nationwide.
The Make Music Alliance is a not-for-profit membership organization, and each city that wants to launch one of these events joins the alliance as a member. Musicians of any level or musical genre perform free concerts at venues across the participating city using Make Music Days’ software platform to sign up. “In most cities there’s an organization such as a music school, community center, retailer, or even just a couple of friends who get together and say, ‘Hey let’s make this happen in our city,’” Friedman says.
Another aspect of the day involves “mass appeal” events such as large-scale guitar strum-alongs. Popular in many cities is Sousapalooza, where wind musicians gather en masse to sight-read marches by John Philip Sousa. This year Vic Firth sponsored bucket-drumming workshops, where everyone got a free set of drumsticks.
“You have a lot of people who are playing in public for the very first time,” Friendman says. “People get really inspired to become musicians by just having a taste of what it’s like to go out and perform.”
This year, landmarks around the United States including Niagara Falls, Boston City Hall, and Los Angeles International Airport pylons were lit up with orange lights for Make Music Day.
Make Music Day is always on June 21, the summer solstice, regardless of the day of the week. For more information and to get involved, visit makemusicday.org.