Make Music New York Day

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June 21, 2007
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Video 1 – CBS2 TV News at 5 report of the ‘Make Music New York’ Day

Video 2 – Documentary about the ‘Make Music New York’ Day that Clarence of Street Films shot

Today I participated in the ‘Make Music New York’ Day. It’s the first time NYC is celebrating this day. Many other cities around the world have been celebrating this day for years now.

On this day musicians play on the streets, to fill the city with music. The musicians are doing this as volunteers and the performances are all free.

Registration for this event started in April. Each registered musician got a street corner assigned to them.

When the organizers asked me where I would like to play I said that I want to play on a block where I have never been to before. The organizers were very happy that I didn’t want to play at a central location, such as Times Square or Union Square, because apparently most of the musicians did want to play only at central locations…

I play at Times Square and Union Square regularly, so it’s no big deal for me to go to those spots. But to go some place where I don’t normally go to – that would be interesting, I thought.

I was assigned Amsterdam Avenue between 104th and 105th street, by the Bloomingdale Playground.

Formerly known as P.S. 145 Playground, this parkland was renamed in 1997 to reflect the rich history of the area. The Upper West Side was named Bloomingdale by 17th century Dutch and Flemish settlers after a town near Haarlem in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam Avenue, which forms one of this park’s borders, is another reminder of the Dutch presence. Amsterdam, the capital of Holland, had played an important role in the New World economy during the 1700’s. The street was originally part of Tenth Avenue, but residents renamed it Amsterdam Avenue in 1890 to honor the area’s first settlers, and also in the hopes that the name change would increase neighborhood property values.

Amsterdam Ave bet. 104th & 105th st

When I got to the spot there weren’t many people there. I was very tired, because I didn’t get enough sleep last night, and I felt like – man, why did I promise to play today… But since I said I would play there today I set up my gear and started playing.

Then something amazing happened: a guy crossed the Avenue from the other side all the way to where I was, just in order to put a coin in my donation’s bucket! That was such a nice gesture! All at once it made me feel welcomed to the block. My energy level shot up high and I continued to play. When I finished the piece there were applause – from BEHIND me! I turned around in surprise and saw a group of 20 3rd and 4th graders pressed against the play ground’s railing. That was so nice!!! These kids were so great – they were enthusiastic, appreciative of music and a really great audience. I totally forgot that I was tired. I was really glad I came there today!

Playing at 'Make Music NY' Day

Clarence from Street Films came by on his bicycle to film me for his documentary of the ‘Make Music New York’ Day. (His video is at the top of this page – it starts and ends with my performance).

While he was filming me CBS2 News showed up in their van. They were filming a segment for the 5 o’clock news about the ‘Make Music NY’ Day, and they came to film me for it. They were so nice – Scott Rapoport, the encore man, prepared a whole bunch of ’saw’ jokes.

(The CBS2 TV coverage is at the top of this page).

Then Andrew from the West Side Spirit came to photograph me. He is so nice – he wrote about me a while back for the DownTown paper. He used to do PR for a museum before he got his newspaper job, and he gave me some good pointers for doing PR for the ‘Musical Saw Players Gathering’ I am currently organizing.

A guy, and then a lady who had nothing to do with the guy, both said it’s been a long time since there was music on this block. They were happy I was there.

A guy from the Dominican Republic told me there was an old man who played the musical saw in his country.

Another guy told me the last time he heard a musical saw was many years ago when an old guy used to play the musical saw in Harlem.

At 4pm I packed up my gear. The Parks Department custodian came by to talk to me. I told him I really enjoyed playing there, because the people were so incredibly nice. He said that it is a nice neighborhood where every body looks out for each other. He also said the kids were really happy I was there. I was amazed at how very well behaved these kids were and what a long attention span they had.

There was a toothless guy who hung out at the other side of the street most of the time I played. As I crossed the street on my way to the subway he came up to me and said it was great I was there today.

Man – I was sad to leave this block! I met so many nice people today!


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by Scott R Munson