Home News and Features Monteverdi Brings Musicians to the Street with ‘Make Music Day’

Monteverdi Brings Musicians to the Street with ‘Make Music Day’

Brass Balagan playing on Church Street in Burlington. Photo by David Schein, courtesy of Make Music VT 2022.
As part of World Music Day and its 40th anniversary, Monteverdi Music School is giving local musicians the mic at locations around Montpelier.

In a city that values an active, engaged community, music always has a home. As part of its 40th anniversary, Monteverdi Music School is tapping into this spirit by launching the first Montpelier edition of “Make Music Day” on June 21, as part of World Music Day. The event will see local musicians — aspiring, professional, and everything in between — perform at sites around the city from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“Basically, if you have a couple songs you can play on guitar … or if you’re a cellist, and you just feel like playing some Bach on the streets, all you have to do is sign up and show up and play,” says Monteverdi’s music education coordinator, Jolynda Burton. 

The goal is to have four sites going — one on the lawn of Monteverdi School on Barre Street, another on the lawn of Kellogg-Hubbard Library, one at the city hall courtyard, and the last at the Christ Episcopal Church courtyard. How many sites are actually used may depend on the number of sign ups and other factors. 

Burton is also encouraging the widest variety of music possible — classical, bluegrass, world, folk, traditional, rock — and will try to reflect that at the individual sites. “I’d love it if you can go to city hall courtyard and hear some classical, some rock, some didgeridoo, and some jazz,” she enthuses.

Achieving that goal, however, will be no easy feat for Burton and makes for the ultimate game of Tetris, juggling musician requests, technical needs, set-up and take-down, volunteer coordination, and any number of potential factors — weather included. This is why Burton, an accomplished singer, will wield only New Balance running shoes that day, as she ping-pongs from site to site. 

Participating musicians will receive more than just street cred and a confidence booster, too, thanks to a grant from Montpelier Alive. The $20 each performer or group of performers will receive may not be much, but it hopefully has some symbolic value. “That’s $20 per slot, too,” Burton notes. “You come as a vocal trio, and you sing for 20 minutes, you each get $6.67.” Should any performers be feeling Monteverdi love, she adds, they are welcome to donate it back to the school. 

For musician and teacher D. Davis, who will be managing the library site and performing himself, there’s more value to be gained than just money for participants. 

“It could help them feel more comfortable on stage, expressing themselves in front of a live audience. And then the realization that it’s really attainable. You don’t have to be a specialist or a professional to do that.”

Davis will be on hand to lend his encouragement — and accompaniment if they desire, as he plays 10 instruments. He also encourages the musicians not to worry about making mistakes and, in fact, sees mistakes as opportunities for growth. 

“My philosophy is what are you going to do with that mistake? I don’t feel as if there are any mistakes in music. I feel like if you hit a wrong note, that may take you on a different trajectory that you wouldn’t have experienced if you hit the right note. Basically, I just have a very positive approach and say, ‘You can do it.’”

It may also help hedging and fledgling performers to know that they truly won’t be alone. In fact, the entire globe will be behind them. World Music Day, started in France more than 40 years ago, now takes place in 120 countries. In Vermont, with the backing of Big Heavy World — an organization that preserves and promotes Vermont-made music — the event has been happening for seven years, and 30 towns participated in 2022. This year is Montpelier’s first.

Monteverdi’s Make Music Day also points to the future direction of the school, which had been planning to expand its offerings when the pandemic put the brakes on. With the crisis easing, forward momentum was restarted, and this included the hiring of Burton. 

“We are expanding and modernizing our music programs,” she explains and points to plans for an afterschool music program for elementary age youths, possibly group classes, and guitar and ukulele for youths.

“My job here is … to look for ways that we can do more and in a better way — to get bigger not for the sake of being bigger, but so that we can do things better and be a little bit stronger.”

In the short term, for the Make Music Day, she’s keeping her aims simple. This starts with getting enough volunteers to perform at and assist with running the event, particularly helping performers set up and play. 

“No heavy lifting is required,” she emphasizes to any aspiring volunteers, as that will all be set up in advance. “It’s really just someone to be the responsible party who has a cell phone with my number in it, because I’ll be bouncing between all four [sites].” 

Ultimately, she points out, “My number one goal is that there’s sound of music for three hours.”

Learn more about Montpelier Make Music Day at the Monteverdi Music School’s (monteverdimusic.org) and Big Heavy World’s (bigheavyworld.com) websites.