Make Music Day UK Takes Center Stage Despite Pandemic
Make Music Day occurs annually on June 21 and is a set of free music events that take place “in venues and public spaces – from town squares to libraries, bandstands to school halls, and arts centers.” Open to musicians of all ages, abilities, and skill levels, the summer solstice music celebration takes place in 125 countries and across 1,000 cities around the world and Make Music Day UK is consistently at the center of the festivities.
The brainchild of Jack Lang and the staff of France’s Ministry of Culture, Make Music Day or Fête de la Musique started in 1982. Make Music Day made its debut in the UK in 2012, leading to the first nation-wide celebration in 2017, thanks to the funding from national organizations. Each year the number of events has continued to grow as support from their primary organizers, Making Music (https://www.makingmusic.org.uk/) and Music for All (http://www.musicforall.org.uk/), in addition to over 60 different music organizations and businesses continues to increase. The festival took on new life in 2020 as the effects of COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world to include new and exciting virtual and socially distant events.
We sat down with Barbara Eifler, Chief Executive for Making Music and part of the Make Music Day steering committee to reflect on this years’ event.
How did Make Music Day UK adjust to COVID-19 and the restrictions imposed to ensure that all participants remained safe and healthy? What new events were launched to supplement a safe, socially-distanced program?
We decided back in March that we had to focus on encouraging and empowering event organizers to focus on digital events – so we engaged a digital producer, and to much success, she ran several webinars and created resources for our website. We also decided to create an official all-day broadcast via YouTube and Facebook. By the time Make Music Day happened, the lockdown was starting to end, and a few people ventured to create some ‘real-life’ events, including the serenading of care homes from a distance.
Were there any new events hosted this year that you were particularly excited to facilitate? Will the new events be added to the rotation for future Make Music Days?
Seeing it all online just brought home that Make Music Day truly is for everyone! At Making Music, we were particularly excited to create our Virtual Choir and Ensemble of “Bring Me Sunshine,” which is our Make Music Day anthem here in the UK and a sunny and cheerful song which found particular resonance this year! We received 199 submissions, which were beautifully crafted into a film.
Make Music Day UK celebrated its fourth year. To what do you attribute the successful growth, year after year, of the project?
In 2017, Make Music Day UK first became a project coordinated across all four nations of the UK, but it had been going at a smaller/more local level for four years before then, so we did have something to build on. The reason this project is so successful is that there is simply nothing negative about it! Everyone loves music, everyone loves enjoying music with others, and so having one day a year when that love of music spills into the streets instantly appeals to anyone we’ve ever spoken to.
What are some ways that our NAMM Members can support the mission of Make Music UK moving forward?
We would love to collaborate more with NAMM Members to create some events for Make Music Day UK – whether that’s teaching thousands the harmonica or trying to break the Guinness Book of Records record for most ukuleles in one city square. If you’re a NAMM Member looking to get involved, please let us know at email@example.com.
Could you offer some advice for communities or countries looking for ways to expand the success of their Make Music Day program for 2021?
Different countries go about it in different ways, so what might work in one doesn’t necessarily work in another. With that in mind, it’s great to share ideas with others and give them a go. We would say it’s crucial to find many partners who can reach into all parts of the music sector and all communities, so it truly becomes a day for everyone. Since it’s a day about empowering, where everyone can make music and get involved in music, ask yourself, ‘what does that look like in your country?’ Finally, get politicians and the media interested, that way you can get your message out more quickly to everyone.