It all started 37 years ago in France, and now over a thousand cities around the world participate in Make Music Day (MMD) on June 21. In 1982, France’s Ministry of Culture dreamed up a new kind of musical holiday where free, live music could be enjoyed everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops. Unlike a typical music festival, anyone and everyone was invited to join and play music or host performances. The event took place on the summer solstice, June 21, and they called it Fête de la Musique. (When spoken in French, the name can sound like both “festival of music” and “make music!”) Today, the Fête is a true national holiday. France shuts down on the summer solstice and musicians take over; almost 8% of the country (5 million people) have played an instrument or sung in public for the Fête de la Musique.
Make Music Day is celebrated in 120 countries across the world. Is your country involved? El Sistema–inspired programs can join the fun (if there is already activity in your city), or you can take a lead in your city and invite others to join your Make Music event. Everything you need to know is available on the website.
There are also special projects you might join—like Mass Appeal, where a crowd of musicians who all play the same instrument join one another, or Street Studio, when a recording studio is set up in a public place. MMD celebrates the values that Sistema programs bring to their students—joy in music, community around music, and fun.