Kids, moms, dads, and neighbors in Northeast Minneapolis, including students from nearby Edison High School, can now play instruments to make music without lessons or experience of any kind. And sound great.
The seven new outdoor playground instruments that the Minneapolis City of Lakes Rotary Club donated and installed last fall at Jackson Square Park are tuned to the Pentatonic Scale, similar to wind chimes. That makes the instruments sound pleasant no matter who plays them.
The percussion-type instruments are the first of their kind in Minneapolis, the result of a $25,000 community service project by the Rotary club in celebration of it 25th anniversary last year. According to Doug Schmitt, a long time member and past president of the club, who headed up the project, the organization's goals for the unusual effort are to provide easy access for children to play musical instruments, and help people of all ages and cultures come together to enjoy making music.
"We've been involved in many community projects," Schmitt said, "but this is the first time our club has actually built something in Minneapolis that will last for years to come. It's widely believed that music helps build their leadership abilities."
The new instruments were formally dedicated with a colorful ribbon-cutting ceremony that was hosted by City of Lakes President Gayle Noakes. Members of the Edison High School Band capped off the event by playing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" on the new instruments.
The location for the playground instruments in Jackson Square Park was recommended by the MP&RB, because it designated that area of the city as an Arts District in 2003. The 2.3-acre park, which is owned and operated by the MP&RB, features several large outdoor sculptures in addition to a large playground area for kids, softball diamond, volleyball and basketball courts, wading pool, picnic areas and other amenities.
The seven percussion instruments were designed and manufactured by Freenotes Harmony Park. They were installed in a concrete-style semi circle formation in front of an area where a conductor may stand. However, planners expect the instruments to be played mostly by children of all ages who visit the park.
"The concept of music that anyone can make is really intriguing. It's a great vehicle to promote music. It allows musically illiterate people to play with them. The idea is to peak somebody's interest." - Doug Schmitt, VP of Education for Schmitt Music