Worldwide Make Music Day celebration comes to Utah for first time
Kingsi Huand comes out of class to pound the skins. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)
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One June 21, the Riverton Music stores in Sandy and West Jordan participated in the worldwide Make Music Day, the first time Utah has ever been involved.
“In some of the big cities, they have great big concerts, huge guitar jams, and no one in Utah has ever participated before,” said Lee Sproul, the manager at the Sandy store. “We thought it was a worthwhile event.”
Free guitar and ukulele classes, with store instruments and a how-to book with sheet music, were provided for free by Alfred Music for anyone who wanted to join in. Along with a “petting zoo” where different instruments were laid out for children and parents to try out, a mock stage was set up with an electric keyboard, stools, guitar and microphones for those who wished to try their hand at performing.
“We have had some people play for us,” said Sproul. “Anybody who wants to perform gets a free harmonica.”
One of those people was Hannah Miles, who began playing piano seven years ago. She said her mom put her up to it, forcing her to practice, but eventually she came to love it so much that now she’s the one who can’t stay away from the keys.
“If I can just get it, then it sounds so pretty,” said Miles, who came with her family and visiting cousins to buy sheet music and stayed for the event.
The Make Music Day began in 1982 in France when a musical holiday was started by Jack Lang and staff at the Ministry of Culture. The date for the holiday was the summer solstice and became a nationwide festival of music where musicians and those who love music come together and celebrate what it means to create. The Make Music Day festival is now represented in over 120 countries throughout the world and is sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants or NAMM Foundation in the United States, where it began in New York 10 years ago. The NAMM Foundation funds music research, advocates music education and sponsors scholarships for music students and groups.
According to Make Music Day website, in 2016, “38 North American cities organized 3,238 free concerts at 1,078 locations in a single day.” Because of the popularity of the music festival, Make Music organizers founded the Make Music Alliance in North America, where local communities and groups could promote and organize Make Music Day events in their own areas with the help of experienced support.
“The whole premise behind it is that we all get joy from making music and there’s a lot of difference ways to make music,” said Sproul. “Whether you’re new at it or a professional, it doesn’t matter — you can enjoy making music.”
Riverton Music began in 1968 with Hal Rindlisbacher, a local band director, who wanted to help repair instruments for his students and has grown into one of the top 100 music retailers in the United States. The Sandy location was opened in 2002 and not only serves the musical community but has also taken over musical education for the Granite School District when it was forced to shut down its elementary program four years ago.
After they reached out to some of the principals to see if there was interest in starting a program, the school district heard about it, said Colin Campbell, the general manager of the store.
“They brought us in and said this is exactly what we were trying to find, somebody who would do this,” said Campbell. “Now we’re under contract.”
Students from half of the district’s elementary schools pay a small fee and can rent or buy an instrument and participate in an orchestra or band taught by teachers that Riverton Music hires and sends to the schools. Currently, around 55 teachers are employed to work with students around the district and can be used as internship credit for college students majoring in music education.
“We try to be a service to the community,” said Sproul.
For information about Make Music Day and how to become involved, visit http://www.makemusicday.org/