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How To Build Community Music Programs
How To Build Community Music Programs


How To Build Community Music Programs

Music enhances the life of every community. Some localities are fortunate to have orchestras, bands, and choirs that community members can perform with. Others are struggling just to support an elementary school music program. The good news is that there is much you can do to create and build music programs in your area.

Partner With Organizations That Can Help You

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are organizations in place that are willing and eager to help you build community music programs. Some exist on the local level, such as a nearby community college or university. Others are national organizations that support grassroots efforts, such as the National Association of Music Merchants.

You can also reach out to businesses that may be willing to donate money or supplies. Depending upon the programs you have in mind, you may need sheet music, instruments, instructors, costumes, and a place to rehearse. Even if you’re starting small and don’t require many materials yet, begin talking to potential donors now to get them excited about your project.

Begin With Make Music Day

You may have dreams of an award-winning children’s choir. That’s a wonderful idea, but it’s better to start with a simple project. NAMM promotes a Make Music Day on the summer and winter solstices. Started in France in 1982, Make Music Day is now celebrated in 120 countries around the world. The day promotes the following ideas:

  • Live music is performed everywhere it can be, indoors and outdoors.
  • Anyone can join regardless of performance ability.
  • All performances are free and anyone can listen.
  • All types of musicians are welcome to participate, from glee clubs to mariachi bands to jazz combos.

If your town or city is not yet hosting a Make Music Day event, you can begin one yourself. NAMM has toolkits, advice, and support for anyone starting on this venture.

Organize a Day of Music Service

Senior centers, schools, daycares, and community centers can all use a day of music service. Choose an organization or two that you would like to serve and contact them. Ask them what kind of music service they need and what date would work for them.

Then reach out to your musician friends and gather a few volunteers who understand the importance of music. They don’t have to be professionals. They only need a love for music and a willingness to serve. You can perform a wide variety of services, such as:

  • Provide a sing-along concert at an extended care facility or senior center.
  • Teach a group of children how to play the ukulele or guitar.
  • Take Orff instruments to a daycare and let the children explore improvisatory music-making.
  • Offer to teach a high school band sectional on your specific instrument.
  • Organize sheet music and folios in your local orchestra’s or band’s library.

Start a Community Choir

Of all the ensembles that perform together, a choir is the easiest to build from the ground up. You don’t need any instrument except a piano and just about everyone can sing. To begin a choir in your city or town, follow these steps:

  1. Decide what kind of choir it will be. Auditioned? Open to all? Show choir? Gospel choir? Think about what part of your community you want to serve and what would best fill those needs.
  2. Determine if there will be a musical focus. Some choirs sing all types of music. Others specialize in certain genres such as religious songs, show tunes, or classical music. 
  3. Find a place to rehearse. It’s best if you can find a building that will host you without paying a rental fee. Talk to churches and community centers or libraries. You will need a room with a piano or you will have to bring a keyboard. 
  4. Name your group. This could be as simple as “The Smithville Community Choir.” The name should reflect your goals and objectives for the group.
  5. Find a choir director and accompanist, if you are not filling either of these positions. These can be volunteer positions or paid if you are being supported by a local business.
  6. Advertise for singers. Use social media and word of mouth to announce your new choir. Put flyers up in local restaurants, churches, and hair salons.
  7. Order the music for the first rehearsal. Get folios from an online music store or download and print sheet music.

Help an Ensemble Grow

If you already have community ensembles, contribute to them to help them grow. You can join the group, volunteer as a board member, or donate supplies and money. Giving the gift of sheet music is always appreciated by any organization. 

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