Why I Got Into Organizing Make Music Day


It happened like many other things in life – by a serendipity. As I was glancing through my Twitter feed the following grabbed my eyes – Make Music Day celebration. Not ‘listen’, ‘play’, or ‘entertain’ – but MAKE music. That is exactly what the philosophy of Musicably.com is based on. Everyone who is courageous enough, could make music. If for anyone else, then for everyone’s most important audience – for himself or herself.

I had done a brief online research and the more I had been reeding about it, the more I liked it. The fact that it started in Europe and in France in particular, some 36 years ago showed, that this was not a fad and that some fun was to be expected.

Surprising was when I found out, that there were only few Canadian participating cities – Edmonton, and Vancouver (in the past, but not anymore). Then my decision was simple. I had to give it a try and bring the Make Music Day celebration to my neighborhood.

After contacting the Make Music Alliance out of New York, the response was quick and positive. A few days later we had a conference call with the Alliance’s executive director Aaron Friedman. Aaron explained me the basics, described some past experiences in the US and Canada, answered my questions and encouraged me to seriously consider getting into organizing Make Music Day in the area where I live.

So where to start?

I had been aware of the fact, that Toronto ‘dropped the ball’ and decided not to host Make Music Day celebrations this year. Given the fact, that I have started very late – only about three months before the event, a logical decision was to try something manageable in size and distance. Logically, that would be the municipality where I live – Markham, Ontario. The initial response from the municipal employees responsible for necessary permits and similar activities was also promising – but unfortunately that has changed fast.

It took a few more discussions and email exchanges with the Alliance, before I made up my mind and registered Markham as the second participating city in the English speaking Canada this year. My expectations have not been too high as we are just starting.

We are now about two months into the preparation work and exactly three weeks before June 21st. Here is what I have learned and where we are standing with the event:

– Introducing anything new or untraditional to a community is quite demanding task. Everyone seems to be overwhelmed with the amount of information shooting on us from every angle – radio, TV, internet, print. So it is challenging to get out a proper information without any marketing budget.

– Musicians are great people who love what they do – but if they are professionals and music is their livelihood, money is their main concern. So it is not that easy to get them convinced to play for free.

– There is a lot of amateur musicians, who love music, but many have a hard time to perform and present their abilities in front of strangers.

– Older amateur musicians love to perform and don’t have problem to go quite a long way in presenting their musical abilities.

– It is very hard to persuade someone without any musical education, to allow themselves to try making music. They fear embarrassment even if in a group of similar enthusiasts. The idea of music perfection constantly presented by the media is too strong for many just to let go and enjoy themselves while trying to make music.

– It is tricky to deal with the ‘government people’, who often are extremely risk-averse.

– Radios are great to work with, once you get noticed. After all, music is an attractive and suitable topic for them.

– Many good things would probably never happen without an unconditional support and help from friends.

I expect the next three weeks before the Thursday June 21, the Make Music Day Markham itself, to be demanding and crazy. I will try my best to make sure everything will work out well so that all participants will have a great experience while making music. I will report about the event in my next post.



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