On June 21, more than 100 countries and 700 cities celebrate Make Music Day, an international effort to bring people together through music making. The occasion honors music’s role in different cultures, its healing and inspirational abilities, and the way it makes people feel—both as players and listeners. This year, Sweetwater will support Make Music Day in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with hands-on music making events where people can just play.
Sweetwater got involved with Make Music Day for the first time in 2014. Though the music retailer is most widely known for selling music equipment, its more than 300,000-square-foot campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is also home to Sweetwater Academy of Music and Technology. The educational facility has 24 instructors and 450 students. The campus houses a 250-seat performance theater, multi-purpose rooms, warehouse, and a 14,000-square-foot music store.
“We’re a retailer that bases our business on customer service, but we also firmly believe in music education and people simply playing music for the joy of it,” says Sweetwater Store and Academy of Music and Technology Manager Thad Tegtmeyer. “Our mission here at Sweetwater is to inspire people to create music and to share it.”
For Make Music Day in 2014, Sweetwater put together a few events on campus, which ended up attracting nearly twice the number of people expected. Both Tegtmeyer and Public Events Coordinator Jen Lock thought it made sense for Sweetwater to bring Make Music Day to the larger Fort Wayne community.
“Fort Wayne has a great market for something like this,” Lock says. “Last year, it was kind of a last-minute thing; this year, we’re making it more of a community event.”
Lock and Tegtmeyer have moved the event to a centrally located downtown square in Fort Wayne with the hope that they’ll attract more people to participate in the longest day of the year for music making.
“I’ve had people calling me to get involved,” Lock says. “It grew organically.” Expanding from last year’s events, Sweetwater will help organize live music in Fort Wayne, and hands-on events where people can actively participate in music making.
“We’re trying to notify and inform as many people as possible, but it’s not necessarily about numbers,” Tegtmeyer says. “We’re more concerned with the experience of people who do come. Even people not interested in playing still enjoy music.”
Community events planned for this year’s Make Music Day include a drum circle, ukulele strum, guitar jam, hands-on hammer dulcimer experience, keyboard experience, and classical instrument “petting zoo.” Lock continues, “The goal is to have people come and enjoy themselves.”
A summer day with family, food, and music is an easy sell. “A beautiful summer day in the Midwest with food trucks and music?” Tegtmeyer says. “You can’t get any better than that.”
Sweetwater’s story of involvement can be replicated by any business or organization, in any city. For those looking to get involved with Make Music Day in their own city, Tegtmeyer has quick advice. “Start small and get people on board,” he advises. “Get some momentum and get community partners to allow you to get more going—someone to help with tents, stages, food. Ask them to participate. Convey the message about the big picture of celebrating music making. Get other people on board to shoulder some of the load. There’s no downside to having more cooks in the kitchen. And I think every market is a little bit different in what they do. As long as there’s music going on and people involved, you’re good.”
“With anything that involves people making and playing music, you almost can’t go wrong. For us, it makes so much sense for a company that is not just a music gear retailer. We’re big believers in all people creating and playing music. If they do that together it’s even better,” states Tegtmeyer.
Get Involved in Your Community!
The best thing about Make Music Day is that anyone can host an event and join in music making. Any location can be a music-making venue! To participate, start by checking if there are Make Music Day events scheduled in your community. Visit MakeMusicDay.org to find a comprehensive list of city organizers and ways to contact them via their own websites.
If your city is not yet a designated Make Music Day city, you can still be involved in the worldwide celebration and easily create your own event. Visit nammfoundation.org or makemusicday.org to find out how to establish Make Music Day activities in your city or town.