Make Music Day, the worldwide music celebration held each June 21, the summer solstice, is going virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers officially announced. Typically featuring more than 5,000 free outdoor concerts, performances, music lessons, jam sessions and other musical events on streets, sidewalks, parks and other public spaces across the U.S., this year’s celebration will take a virtual approach to encourage all people, of all musical abilities, to celebrate the joy of making music. More than 85 U.S. cities and the entire states of Connecticut, Hawaii, Vermont and Wisconsin will take part in Make Music Day 2020, further demonstrating the power of music to unite and uplift people, spread joy and build community amid this challenging and unprecedented time.
Unlike traditional music festivals, Make Music Day celebrates and promotes the natural music maker in all of us, regardless of age, background or skill level. Make Music Day is an open invitation for everyone to make, enjoy, perform, teach and learn music on the longest day of the year and the launch of summer. Across the U.S., in cities large and small, musicians and organizers heeded the call and have created fun, engaging, new ways for anyone to join in the celebration on Sunday, June 21 while also practicing social distancing.
Launched in France in 1982 as the “Fête de la Musique,” Make Music Day has become a global phenomenon observed today by hundreds of millions of people in over 1,000 cities across 120 countries. Make Music Day is presented in the U.S. by The NAMM Foundation and coordinated by the non-profit Make Music Alliance.
“In this time of social distancing, music’s powerful role to bring us together as a community is more important than ever,” said Make Music Alliance president Aaron Friedman. “While physical public gatherings may not be currently accessible, we can still stay connected and celebrate music with people around the world on June 21.”
Highlights of Make Music Day 2020 in the U.S. will include:
- Bash the Trash — Bash the Trash Environmental Arts offers unique designs for wind, percussion and string instruments that people can build from everyday refuse. Participants are invited to create instruments, and then use them to play Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” and “Baby Shark” on Make Music Day. Free, used guitar strings from D’Addario’s Playback String Recycling program will be sent upon request to those making stringed instruments. On June 21, Bash The Trash experts will lead a video call where everyone can share their creations.
- Bedroom Studios — Since 2016, world-class DJs and producers on June 21 have set up small mobile recording studios on sidewalks in cities worldwide, and engaged passersby and musicians to join in an entirely improvised music creation session. In lieu of these “Street Studios,” producers will make music at home using sounds that people send to them in the moment, while livestreaming so everyone can take part in the production process.
- Flowerpot Music — Music will be in full bloom on June 21, and literally budding from flowerpots in New York (NY), Hartford (CT), Chicago (IL), Philadelphia (PA) and other global cities. Flowerpot Music, by composer Elliot Cole and percussionist Peter Ferry, is a composition for this unlikely but beautiful percussion instrument, played with soft felt mallets. Bell-like tones are passed between performers in improvised gestures called “blooms” that sweep through the group. Written in simple prose, the piece can be performed by non-musicians and musicians alike. Cole and Ferry created a special Make Music Day version of the composition to be performed virtually, with participants joining together online to perform it on June 21. Vic Firth has generously donated mallets for these performances, so that anyone can take part – all you need is a flowerpot.
- Global Livestream — As a “Main Stage” for Make Music Day, the Make Music Alliance will organize an all-day video stream on June 21 showcasing the rich diversity of being made around the world.
- Live From Home — People will be invited to post a musical performance from home on June 21, and tag three friends to challenge them to do the same. The initiative is in partnership with Make Music Australia and Make Music China, the latter using Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. Live From Home will feature an Ella Fitzgerald song challenge, in cooperation with the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation.
- #MySongIsYourSong — Musicians will join in a global song swap where they’ll learn and perform a song by a local artist, and hear one of their original songs covered in return. All songwriters and composers are encouraged to participate. Online registration closes on May 21. Partners will be carefully matched and introduced on June 5, then will share their video performances on June 21 with the hashtag #mysongisyoursong.
- Track Meet — On June 21, teams of four musicians will race against the clock to create brand new original tracks in a creative relay. Using the virtual audio workstation SoundTrap, each musician will get 90 minutes to add their contribution before the next teammate takes over. At the end of the day, each team’s track will be published online for everyone to hear.
- 25×12: Live Online Lessons — Music teachers across the U.S. and globally will offer 12 hours of free group lessons for 25 different instruments, at a range of levels from beginning to advanced. The lessons (12 hours per instrument) will be available via Zoom Conference.
- Window Serenades — Musicians will perform outside select senior centers and nursing homes in Chicago (IL) and other cities while practicing social distancing. Residents may tape a piece of brightly colored paper to their window to request a song.
- World’s Smallest Marching Band Since 2011, “Sousapaloozas” bringing hundreds of brass, wind, and percussion players together to sight-read John Philip Sousa marches have been a Make Music Day favorite. This year, in lieu of those large gatherings, brass and wind players will explore the other end of the scale by parading solo through cities and playing band repertoire to people listening from their homes or workplace.
- Young Composers Contest — In celebration of Make Music Day, and for all young composers home-bound due to the pandemic, the Make Music Alliance is holding a contest for composers ages 13-21. Composers are invited to write a three-minute piece for SATB vocal quartet, set to the William Carlos Williams poem, “By the road to the contagious hospital,” and submit it by May 18. A noted panel of professional composers will select three winners and seven honorable mentions. All 10 pieces will then be professionally recorded by the Make Music “Quarantet,” and released online on June 21.
All Make Music Day events are free and open to the public. Participants who wish to perform, or to host musical events, may register at MakeMusicDay.org. A full schedule of in-person and virtual events will be posted on the website in early June.
Official hashtag: #MakeMusicDay
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