Discovering the Rhythms of Funk Music: Library's New Percussion Playground Pays Tribute to the Town's History and Provides an Educational and Fun Experience for All

The Ohio Players, Lakeside, and Slave are all funk bands that came out of the town of Dayton, Ohio, the birthplace of 'Funk Music.' Today, these bands and the origins of Funk Music are showcased in Dayton's Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center, and now, the recently refurbished library honors Funk through its new music garden.

During a system-wide facility upgrade to Dayton's 16 library branches, the community was asked what they would like at Dayton Metro Library, and one of the ideas that came out of the discussion was how they could reflect Funk in the library.

Jayne Klose, the Community Engagement Manager at Dayton Metro Library, was part of the team that renovated the library and helped create an outdoor play opportunity to honor funk music, which opened in February 2022.

Jayne says, "When we consulted our patrons, we heard there weren't many playgrounds in the area. Traditional playgrounds often create hazards with the risk of injury, so we came up with the idea of a percussion playground! We wanted this to be an outdoor play opportunity that would honor Funk Music."

The team discussed which instruments would be most appropriate, and they soon realized they had to have drums, which would nod to funk music and James Brown's influence. They included the Large Babel Drum and Cajon Drum. The Papilio, Emperor Chimes, and Calypso Chimes were included along with the Rainbow Cavatina and Music Book.

Jayne says the Cavatina and Music Book are particularly popular with the younger patrons. Jayne says, "They love being able to play a recognizable tune such as Twinkle Twinkle. The Music Book is so educational, and parents really enjoy seeing their children learn!" The percussion playground is used by the Children's Librarians, who use it for pre-school storytime. This session always includes some play elements. The playground is situated just off the patio, and the librarians regularly see children run over and play the instruments with little or no encouragement.

Jayne says, "The children are drawn to the instruments – it's a real highlight of their visit to us. We have families coming and going from the library who always start or finish their trip with a music jam. The beauty of these instruments is that the whole family can play. They're for everyone."

The Dayton Metro Library has partnered with an organization called 'Learn to Earn,' which initiated 'Play on Purpose' sites or POP sites. These sites are marked with signs to encourage parents and caregivers to take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities. These learning opportunities can occur anywhere, such as at bus stops or outside parks.

The Dayton Metro Library has recently become a 'Play on Purpose site' where early literacy is encouraged. One of the features of this program is the percussion playground, where parents and caregivers are prompted to engage their children in conversations about vibrations and sounds. Additionally, visitors can learn about the history of Funk Music and even try playing some Funk themselves.