June 21st is International Make Music Day! This holiday began in 1982 when France’s Ministry of Culture dreamed of a musical holiday. A day where free live music would be everywhere; street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops would all be filled with the sound of music. And thus, Fête de la Musique, was born. A festival featuring free concerts in locations all around the city of Paris. Since then, the festival has become an international phenomenon. Make Music Day is now celebrated in more than 700 cities in 120 countries, including China, Germany, Greece, Brazil, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Performers of any age and skill level are encouraged to join in on the music-making. The only caveats for these festivals are that the concerts must be free to the public, and all performers are to donate their time free of charge.
In North America
Twelve years ago, the Fête de la Musique crossed the Atlantic with the debut of Make Music New York. The event began as a grassroots initiative by a team of volunteers and quickly became a city-wide event. Today, around 5,000 New York musicians perform in more than 1,000 free outdoor concerts every year. The festival was so popular in New York that it soon spread throughout North America. In 2019, 85 North American cities organized free concerts at 1,862 locations. All on a single day.
Locally, the closest Make Music Day festival is located in Cincinnati. Last year, Make Music Cincinnati held concerts in over 100 locations throughout the city.
Due to the threat of COVID-19, Make Music Day will look a little different this year. Make Music is exploring new ways to continue the tradition of making music, while also following all the appropriate guidelines. One of the ways they are doing this is by changing their Sousapalooza event (an invitation for hundreds of brass, wind, and percussion players to come together and sight-read the music of John Philip Sousa), to the World’s Smallest Marching Band. In this event, individual brass and wind players will parade through cities, by themselves, playing band repertoire to people listening from their homes or workplaces.
The organization is also encouraging musicians to utilize social media, and post videos of themselves making music. “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.”
Are you a musician? It’s your time to shine! You can participate in Make Music Day by posting a video or going live on social media with the hashtag #MakeMusicDay
Still honing your music skills? We have a book for that!