Author: Tatar, Yvonne

Museum of Making Music Stands Tall in San Diego

The Museum of Making Music is a very special addition to the music community down here in the San Diego area. It’s located in Carlsbad and has special exhibits, kids programs, gallery displays, recitals, and overall just about anything music-related will be featured here at some point in time. A few years back my band Virtual Strangers played for busloads of school children as we introduced them to bluegrass at the concert hall at MoMM. It was a fantastic experience!

What is the Museum of Making Music? First of all, it’s a division of the NAMM Foundation. The history on their website states, “Founded in 1998 by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the Museum of Making Music was developed to showcase and celebrate the music products industry. Soon thereafter, in March 2000, the Museum was opened to the public. On permanent display are hundreds of vintage instruments, audio and video clips, and a vibrant interactive area. A snapshot of music business practices and nostalgic re-creations of music stores provide a glimpse into the music products industry. Special exhibitions are presented twice a year with concurrent music presentations and workshops highlighting renowned international and national musicians as well as local talent.”

Currently the MoMM is featuring a year-long salute to the banjo in their “The Banjo: A New Day for an Old Instrument” series. This special exhibit runs from March – November, 2014, and the museum explains that it “reveals a compelling and triumphant story about ‘America's Instrument.’” Bluegrass-leaning banjo artists to perform in the series are Alison Brown (May), Bill Evans (May), Sammy Shelor & Lonesome River Band (June), Tony Trischka (August), Mark Johnson & Emory Lester (October), and Dan Levenson (November).

With the banjo’s inroads in just about every music genre, this exhibit explores how the banjo is being heard on “children's television, late-night television and at the World Series. Grammy winning artists, famous comedians and international megastars place the banjo at the center of their acts. Today, the ‘happy instrument’ is so popular, a Google search for ‘banjo lessons’ turns up nearly four million hits in 0.25 seconds.” That’s a really impressive stat for the ol’ five-wire!

The MoMM exhibit explains how this is happening and how the banjo emerged from the “the plains of West Africa to plantations in the American South,” and today how it is surviving under the bright lights of country, folk and bluegrass.” Accompanied by an impressive array of historical instruments as well as those made by today's companies large and small, “The Banjo series” tells us the story of how music is made in America . . . how all elements of the industry – musicians, manufacturers, dealers, consumers, songwriters and publishers – interact in a musical ecosystem centered on the banjo. You could get really educated on all things banjo there!

The MoMM’s vision is this - “We envision a world in which the joy of making music is a precious element of daily living for everyone; a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught; and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right.”

The MoMM is both inspiring and entertaining. And as music lovers, their vision and goal can inspire us to stand alittle taller and try to make music more attainable for all ages. We can all collectively work toward this. The Museum of Making Music is doing it’s part. The MoMM is definitely worth the trip to see when you visit San Diego. They are doing great work there. Learn more at Then go share some music!
Posted:  6/19/2014

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