Make Music Day Markham 2018 – Organizer’s Retrospective


It is a more than a month since the Make Music Day happened on June 21st. And I have finally time for the retrospective. Following is a summary of what happened here in Markham where with the help of few friends I had organized a one day celebration of music making.

When writing my previous post about Make Music Day I was cautiously optimistic. We had confirmed five venues and three of them were already paired with musicians. But it took only a couple hours and everything started to fall apart. The most enthusiastic venue had double cancellation and there didn’t seem a chance to fill it. Other venues hesitated to register because as educational organizations they feared potential problems from the ‘higher-ups’ … Another venue seemed to decide to simply ‘hijack’ the Make Music Day idea and our initial support for their very particular interests, without coordinating with us. Local government and their relevant organization’s promises to help us at least promoting our event remained unfulfilled. Other organizations told me that they need one year (!) of upfront planning if we wanted our event to be supported by them. Media that I contacted were asking about our marketing budget that was already depleted. Suddenly I found out about two similar music events planned for around the same time as our event and in the eyes of some potential partners, there was too much competing events. And so on and on.

I was about to throw the towel and cancel our event.

The only thing that kept me going in that situation was my promise to a handful of kids, including my daughter, that they will be participating in this global music making event. And they were very enthusiastic about it, preparing and practicing really hard. How could I disappoint them?

I shared my frustration with some of my friends, and surprisingly, they offered not only words of understanding, but also help and support.

So back to work I went.

And in the very last moment, things started to move in the right direction. We even got a well appreciated help from a few local volunteers, who recognized and understood the uniqueness of the Make Music Day idea.

A couple smaller local radio station helped us by giving us an opportunity to talk about our event live on-air. A local Chinese language television station invited us for a live interview. A few local music stores offered their support as well. Few interesting musicians ‘got the message’ and decided to participate too.

And in as short time as two weeks we went from pondering a cancellation, to having a nice music festival at eight venues!

I was thrilled … and also somewhat terrified. It was the feeling of responsibility that hit me. Endless row of questions run through my head: What have I forgot? Will the weather cooperate? Will there be any audience? Will they play even without audience, just for themselves? Are volunteers prepared to explain the ethos of the event properly? How could I possibly attend as many events as possible? …

Then the big day arrived, the sun was shining and I realized, that all I could do was to enjoy it and hope for the best.

It was a great beautiful day filled with joyful music making. That was an assessment I had been getting in the following few days after the event.

A few great moments that occurred during the Make Music Day Markham, are worth mentioning here: Like when the two little violinists got supported by their music teacher and together entertained the whole street and the local library. Subsequently a sibling of one of the participants couldn’t resist and performed his best piece on the piano.

Or a solo folk-rock guitarist entertained guests of a close-by restaurant, and few even joined him in singing famous French songs.

In another venue small children learned with their parents how to keep rhythm and play drums, while their bigger siblings learned how to play harmonica.

A local community centre supported recent immigrants from the Middle East to perform their folklore music.

An acoustic open mike venue could fill the whole night with so many interested performers.

Or when mostly retired members of the New Horizons Orchestra invited a group of teenage violinists preparing for a following performance and the enjoyed to play together one famous piece.

So at the very end, it was a great day filled with joy and music making. Together with a group of like-minded friends and volunteers, we accomplished everything what we aimed for.

I just would like once again to thank everyone who participated or who helped us to make the Make Music Day Markham happen. The next year it will be bigger and better.


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