From the August 2013 issue of Maplegrove Magazine

Music Park Legacy Project In Maple Grove

Maple Grove Rotary Club builds a community music park at Town Green.
Emerson and Jackson Day find harmony together in the new music park at Town Green.    Sounds of spontaneous creativity can be heard in the new Maple Grove Rotary Music Park.  Nestled in at Town Green near the library and outdoor amphitheater, this new music park provides a place to meander, relax and create music.

The music park includes six specially made, weather resistant instruments laid out to create complimentary tones. These permanent instruments are accessible to would-be musicians of any age and require no special skill to play. There are no sour notes, only the sweet sounds of families and friends, young and old, a community making music together.

The idea to build a musical park came out of the Maple Grove Rotary Club’s 2009 five-year visioning plan. Maple Grove Rotary president-elect Susan Pryce says, “Our club is active in a wide variety of community service projects. But we wanted to be part of a project that would benefit the entire community as well as provide visibility to our organization.” When a few club members saw a Rotary presentation about outdoor musical instruments installed at Jackson Square Park in Northeast Minneapolis, they pitched a similar project idea to the Maple Grove Rotary Club.

Unlike a skate park that serves mostly kids and teens or a memorial park whose significance can be lost on youngsters, an interactive music park can be enjoyed together by everyone at every age. The Maple Grove Rotary Club unanimously approved moving ahead with the project. The club approached Mayor Steffenson with the music park idea and soon after the city granted its support and a location to build the park at Town Green. Pryce says, “We worked closely with the parks department and Chuck Stifter, the designer of Town Green, to ensure our idea would fit within the city’s beautifully established park design.”
Long-time Rotarian, Doug Schmitt of Schmitt Music had been involved in the Jackson Square Music Park. He directed Maple Grove Rotarians to Fireflies Play Environments, Inc., a Minnesota distributor of Freenotes Harmony Park instruments. Freenotes supplied the instruments for both parks. Fireflies owner, Camille Calderaro says, “The very first Freenotes outdoor instruments were designed by Grammy Award winning musician, Richard Cook.

His desire was to make music accessible to all and ensure musical success for everybody.” These durable outdoor instruments produce superior soothing sounds and never require tuning. Careful consideration was given to the placement of each instrument at the Maple Grove Rotary Music Park. They are arranged to provide each player eye contact with every other player. “Making music becomes an interactive community engagement that makes people happy,” says Calderaro.

The instrument layout also allows the tones of each instrument to compliment one another. Played alone or together, these interactive instruments are sure to make an instant musician out of any park visitor.

Music Park Instruments include: Contrabass Chimes – Seven chime towers that range in height from 7-9 feet. They are pitched an octave below middle C and resonate with a sensation of surround sound.  Glass Imbarimba – A combined marimba and kalimba that provides two-handed access to upper and lower notes.African Drums – Molded plastic tuned drums that provide bass and beat.  The Swirl – Sculptural chimes that emit a beautiful full range of soprano to alto sounds as elegant as a harp. Pagoda Bells – Vertically aligned bells with long resonating tones that serve as calming percussives.Sunset Yantzee – A foundational piece that looks like a xylophone and provides low resonance in support of melody.

The music park instruments are also stunning garden sculptures. Musical works of art that look as beautiful as they sound. And the park path that winds between the instrumental statuary includes pavers purchased by music park sponsors. The Rotary Club will continue to install park pavers that can be purchased by the public for $150 each in support of the music park. Pryce is excited about how many people will come to Town Green and enjoy the new music park. “I’ll be a grandma one day,” says Price. “I’ll take my grandchildren to the music park. I’ll show them the pavers and we’ll play music together.”

Chuck Beach, former Maple Grove Rotary president and 25 year Rotary Club member, is excited about the music park’s ability to facilitate interaction between children and adults. “It’s music that can be played by anybody,” says Beach, “Young and old, those with autism or physical disabilities, even someone like me, with no musical inclination can make music that sounds good. It can be done alone or in a group and doesn’t require a big time commitment.” The Maple Grove Rotary has been involved in many service projects in the community. But the music park is by far the biggest project the group has undertaken. Pryce says, “Fundraising has been the biggest challenge. But this project has had good reception. People are excited. This is our legacy project.”

Want to Know More? The Maple Grove Rotary Club is a group of professional people who meet weekly to do good locally and internationally. The group is open to new members and meets Tuesdays from 6:45 to 8 a.m. at Champps Americana, 13521 80th Circle North, Maple Grove. Click for more information about Maple Grove Rotary Club or to donate to the Maple Grove Rotary Music Park.

Video about the project

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