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Best things to do for families at Make Music New York

Start practicing your scales and tuning your instruments—New York’s shortest (and most interactive) concert series will hit city streets on Friday, June 21.

  • Make Music New York

  • Make Music New York

  • Make Music New York

  • Make Music New York

  • Make Music New York

     

  • Make Music New York

Make Music New York


On Friday, June 21, NYC will be taken over by musicians of all ages, genres and levels of expertise for the Make Music New York festival. The annual event is traditionally held on the first day of summer, and this year will feature over 1,000 free concerts throughout the five boroughs—many of which are kid-friendly. Keep reading for our suggestions of the best concerts and activities for families, and visit the festival's website for a full list of events.

See a school concert
Tons of NYC schools are taking part in the musical festivities, holding concerts that feature student performers and giving little ones the opportunity to cheer on their talented peers. Check out the full list of school choruses, bands, and ensembles—which includes the likes of P.S. 29, P.S. 126, Bronx Compass High School and the NYC iSchool—at makemusicny.org/schedule.

Make your own music
One of the coolest features of this festival is Mass Appeal, a lineup of music-making sessions throughout the day in which anyone can jump in to play a particular instrument. Some sessions require you to sign up beforehand and bring your own instrument, music stand, and other supplies, but others are totally open to spontaneous walk-ins. The gong jam session (Herald Square, 6-7:30pm) will supply participants of all ages with instruments, strikers, and instructions, and the first 100 people to show up to the harmonica session (Strangers Gate in Central Park, 6-7:30pm) will receive a free harmonica and a mini how-to-play seminar (RSVP is suggested). And any kid with a Fisher-Price keyboard can join the Toy Piano jam (Sakura Park, 3-4pm). But our favorites are the sessions that require no instruments at all, like the group Hum-a-long (DUMBO ConEd Farragut Substation, 7:30-9pm) and Anyone’s Story (Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 7:30-8pm), in which participants download a sing-along track and make up their own lyrics to sing en masse in four-part harmony.

Get inspired by young headliners
School groups aren’t the only under-18 performers on the lineup. There are tons of talented kid musicians playing shows all day, ranging from the pint-sized players of the Corona Bucket Children’s Orchestra to 16-year-old rapper Nakuu. And don’t miss tween cover band Radioactive and the brother-sister hip-hop duo KDW. Young musicians-in-training at some of the city’s coolest music programs are also getting their chance to shine—students from School of Rock NYC, Little Kids Rock, and Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls will perform concerts showcasing their newfound skills. Check the MMNY website for specific times and locations. 

Catch a kid-friendly show
Family-friendly rock band and Make Music vets The Fuzzy Lemons will play three shows throughout the city—at the Cortelyou Road Library Plaza in Flatbush (11am-noon) and Cozy’s Cuts For Kids (1:30-2:30pm), and the Playground at Carl Schurz Park (4-4:45pm) on the Upper East Side. Or catch Adam and the Argentinians playing tot-approved tunes about a trip through the zoo at the Museum of Motherhood (2-3pm). Then head to Abe Lebewohl Park to sing along with the folksy ukulele-strumming Lucy Kalantari (5-5:30pm).

Listen to (and play!) a giant piano
Archway, a larger-than-life installation by multimedia artist and composer Eli Keszler, will transform the Archway under the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO into a huge playable instrument between 4 and 8pm. The creation stretches pieces of piano wire measuring up to 380 feet long from the Manhattan Bridge and from a nearby lamp pole; these wires will be strummed by automatic beaters and magnified by microphones, which will project the music throughout the Archway. From 6:30-7pm, Keszler and So Percussion will perform on drums and other percussion instruments while Archway plays in the background. The best part about the project? Kids can strum the wires themselves to create their own beautiful music.


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