June 21, 2017 marked the 35th annual Make Music Day, "a free celebration of music ...open to anyone who wants to take part." Anyone and everyone, that is, in the more than 750 cities and 120 countries that participated this year.
It all began in 1982 with the French Ministry of Culture dreaming of a musical holiday "where free, live music would be everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops."
To accomplish that dream, organizers began inviting "every kind of musician—young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion" to pour onto streets, parks, plazas, and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers.
And that dream has come true.
Now a national holiday in France, Make Music Day (Fête De La Musique) brings more than 5 million people together across the country each year. Just ten years ago it came to the United States, and by 2016 had spread to more than 38 cities across America.
Making it happen
The rules are simple for organizers—the event must be free, in public, participatory, on June 21, and feature live performers. And there's even a growing network of organizers in the U.S (the Make Music Alliance) committed to "providing tools to help manage the event in each community, and foster collaboration, mentorship, and mutual support among its members."
So, with a growing support system and almost 355 days to go, there's plenty of time to make the 2018 Make Music Day the biggest one yet.
U Street Busking by Mike Maguire CC BY 2.0