Still jammin’

COVID-19 be damned, Make Music Day in Philly goes virtual this year

Musician at Make Music Philly
Make Music Philly will go virtual this year on June 21. Image | Courtesy Make Music Philly

Philly will make music this year, as it has since 2013. Only this year, the entertainment will be virtual. 

Make Music Philly is going virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Make Music Philly is part of “Make Music Day,” the worldwide music celebration held each June 21, the summer solstice. Typically featuring free outdoor concerts, performances, music lessons, jam sessions and other musical events on streets, sidewalks, parks and public spaces in Philly and across the U.S., this year’s Make Music Day will take a virtual approach to encourage all people, of all musical abilities, to celebrate the joy of making music. 

Highlights of Make Music Philly this year include:

  • #MySongIsYourSong – Performers covering each other’s songs
  • Free Online Music Lessons
  • Virtual Instrument Petting Zoo
  • Virtual Music Performances on several Philly area social pages, including Make Music Philly & Delco Quarantine Open Mic Facebook pages 

Musicians can visit MakeMusicPhilly.org to register their virtual events. More information also is available on Make Music Philly’s Facebook page.

PW recently caught up with Make Music Philly Executive Director Joann Pierdomenico to talk about this year’s event.

Talk a little about the history behind Make Music Philly. How and why did it start?

Make Music Day itself began as Fete De La Musique in France in 1982 and has spread to over 120 countries since. The U.S. began participating in the mid-2000s and has grown to 90 chapters throughout the country.

WXPN heard about Make Music Day in 2013 and decided it was important for Philly to be a part of this international celebration. XPN organized Make Music Philly in 2013 (which included 150 performances) and in 2014 (230 performances). Worried that it was getting too big for them to handle in-house, they handed over the reins to a volunteer team in 2015. That worked for a couple years, but people got busy and it started to fade. Local nonprofit Keep Music Alive signed on as Make Music Philly coordinators in early 2020 and is now working to build it back up and put Make Music Philly back on the map.

What were the challenges of putting together a virtual event this year?

Coming up with a variety of musical activities that can be done virtually was definitely a challenge. The New York City founding chapter for Make Music Day in the U.S. has been great about providing creative ideas and mechanisms to participate. Activities, in addition to live performance streaming, include #MySongIsYourSong, Bedroom Studios, The World Smallest Marching Band, Song Shares, 25X12 Live Online Lessons, Digital Dance Party and more.

Make Music Day in Philly will feature the same great music as every year, only this time you’ll have to enjoy it virtually. Image | Courtesy Make Music Philly

What’s been the response from musicians to going virtual?

The response from musicians has been great, and I think it’s partly due to the fact that many made the necessary switch to virtual performances and other musical activities when things started to get crazy in mid-March. 

One shining example has been the Delco Quarantine Open Mic Facebook group (welcoming all Philly area musicians), which has grown to almost 15,000 members in less than three months. You’ll find scheduled performers there every day from 2pm until nearly midnight (and sometimes later). DQOM has also been helping to support local businesses and nonprofits through this brand new platform that was created, almost, overnight.  

Walk our readers through the process of “attending” this year’s Make Music Philly. How can they find out about the musicians and see their performances?

Beginning in early June, the MakeMusicPhilly.org website will provide a TV Guide-like format showing what’s happening that day in our area. We’ll also be featuring special event info on the Make Music Philly Facebook page. In addition, we’ll be live-streaming a dozen performances from noon to 6 p.m. that day on Facebook.com/MakeMusicPhilly.

What are the best ways for both musicians and fans to stay up-to-date with Make Music Philly – both in the short term with the virtual performances and for years to come?

Musicians can register their Make Music Philly event at MakeMusicPhilly.org all the way up to the weekend of June 21. Starting in early June, the website will provide a guide showing what’s happening that day in our area. We also encourage Philly music fans and musicians to connect online at Facebook.com/MakeMusicPhilly as the day gets closer.

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.