Walking you through the process of creating a community-build outdoor musical garden, trail or playground
STAGE ONE: Starting off!
Maybe you've seen a music park working in another community, or seen outdoor musical instruments in a park or family attraction whilst on vacation or visiting relatives and felt sure that they would benefit your community. Outdoor music projects often start with a vision of an individual person or a small group of people who share a passionate belief that music is something that absolutely everyone in their local community should have the opportunity to access and enjoy. Thinking of taking the plunge? This guide has been written to assist anyone tasked with delivering a music project for his or her community and to help bring your project ideas to life.
A music park or musical trail will provide an inclusive community place for individuals, families or groups of friends to stroll, unwind and create great music together in a fun and carefree way. They’re a wonderful way to encourage more people to become involved in music-making, a special way to celebrate the arts in a community as well as providing 'interactive' and inclusive fun family-friendly experiences.
Music can bring a diverse group of people together in the community simply because it transcends language limitations - providing its own language of rhythm and melody to enable its players and users to communicate with each other non-verbally.
Outdoor musical instruments are an innovative and delightful way for children and adults to enjoy the outdoors and because they are fully inclusive, accessible and multi-generational, they make music-making possible for all ages and abilities. Grandparents can play alongside their grandchildren (or even great-grandchildren!) and children with disabilities - who are often left to sit and watch their able-bodied friends and siblings play - can now play side-by-side in a sensory-rich playground environment.
Speak to Others
Many community groups will have experience of fundraising or have expertise in managing this type of project and will want to share that expertise with you. We have worked with Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis as well as enthusiastic parents and grandparents who want to make a difference. Please feel free to contact us and we can try to put you in touch with someone who can pass on some valuable experience.
Form a Committee
Regardless of the size of your budget, building a musical playground or trail will be a challenge. You’ll need a supportive team of individuals with a variety of skill sets to bring different perspectives to your team, project, and design.
- Parents and/or Carers with good communication skills
- Business leaders with connections within the community
- Individuals with fundraising experience
- PR and Marketing Specialists
- Construction Workers / Project Managers/Landscapers and Landscape Architects
- Financial Management
Additionally, the cooperation of different professionals and roles is ideal to ensure a cohesive and effective approach. Council officers and members, children’s services professionals, planners, developers, architects, landscape architects and designers, parks and recreation managers are just some of the people who have or should have, an interest in promoting enjoyable play spaces for the community. Also, the outdoor musical instruments themselves are only one part of the overall design. A combination of landscaping, planting, and community art installations, for example, complementing one another within the overall design of the area, can cultivate a greater sense of place and reap huge benefits for families and the wider community.
For a little inspiration and to see how a group of like-minded individuals can take action see our Case Study 'Ireland's Most Inclusive Playground and read how a determined committee in Greystones, Co Wicklow envisioned a musical playground that was inclusive and accessible to all children and went ahead and made it a reality.
STAGE TWO: Location, Location, Location!
Once the idea is formed, you need to decide where the community music park or musical trail would be best placed. Look at what facilities already exist to determine how best to develop an existing play area, local-park or open space into your communal music park or trail. Building within an existing park can often cut project costs dramatically.
Your music garden will become a destination, drawing families from other areas - therefore choosing a location that’s easily accessible is ideal. Ensure the space is away from dangerous roads, pollution or too much noise which will detract from the music. Children with different abilities can play together in well-designed musical play spaces, and parents and carers who are themselves disabled should be able to gain access to the musical park or playground if they are to accompany their children.
Local or Parish Councils own most existing playgrounds. The design, installation, and maintenance of children’s play areas are likely to be their responsibility and therefore it’s important that your project is fully supported by them. Hopefully, they’ll be willing to not only provide land to build on but also contribute financially. Let them know that your music garden or trail will become a source of community pride, a play space loved by the community. The process of creating successful musical parks or trails, that meet the needs of children and the communities they live in, will almost always need prospective users (and neighbors of the scheme) to articulate their concerns as well as their needs and aspirations. A successful community engagement process will help create a site that the community likes and which meets its needs.
Maybe your project is broader and includes other play or playground equipment and well as outdoor musical instruments. If so, you may want to read the following;
RoSPA has plenty of tips and advice on designing safe play spaces:
RoSPA Advice & Information & RoSPA Play Area Design Tips
Also KABOOM! works with communities to build incredible, kid-designed playspaces and they have created a fantastic Guide to organizing your community to create a community-built playspace
STAGE THREE: Speak to us!
Once you have chosen and gained site approval, delve into the Percussion Play website to look and listen to our outdoor musical instruments. Our website is designed to make it easy to select the right instruments for you. With lots of photos, videos, and technical information, we have equipped you with all the information you should need to make choosing your outdoor musical instruments straightforward and enjoyable. The number and type of instruments you select is of course up to you, but we can help you prepare a design that will fit your available space and of course your budget. We can even create a design for you, through supplying us with a photo of your outdoor area we can create an image of the instruments in place - great for motivating your fundraising team and explaining to your community what you intend to create.
Designed to save our customers time and money when selecting a group of instruments we have created a number of outdoor music ‘ensembles’. These ensembles are a great way to get your outdoor music project moving quickly and easily and will ensure the combination of instruments will together sound harmonious. We have large and small ensembles that comprise many aspects of percussion. Percussion Play Ensembles can be viewed here
Download our App which includes a comprehensive resource for landscape architects, playground designers, park and recreation professionals or playground committees. Information contained on the App includes; installation instructions, videos, dimension and plan drawings, product certificates and lots and lots of images.
Alternatively, to incorporate our products into your plans quickly, our CAD & 3D drawings, product specifications, media files and more are now available for free download at CADdetails.com. This is an online source for manufacturer-specific building product information for input into working plans and specification documents.
Our Case Studies page gives lots of examples of successful community music projects that may help inspire and motivate you.
STAGE FOUR: Funding & Finances
In this kind of project, every penny counts and searching for and pursuing funding sources is often the hardest part of the process. Whether you are going to approach your local authority to fund the project, apply for different grants or funding streams or fundraise yourselves, it's vital that you start reaching out to the community for help. Approaching and gaining the support of local businesses and organizations for sponsorships, donations, or volunteers can create partnerships with opportunities that benefit all involved.
Within the technical information downloads page on our website, you can find high-resolution product photographs for creating mood boards and collages to show everyone what it is you're planning and build your case for fundraising. Pinterest, Juxtapost or Dribbble are all available free on the internet and the concept is simple. If you find something you like on the web, save it on your ‘mood board’ online. It’s effectively a digital pinboard in which you can bookmark – or “pin” – images that you like or find online and organize them into your own “boards”. We’ve created several ‘boards’ of our own Pinterest Page
Having a fundraising strategy so you can consider all types of funding sources is essential. Do not become too dependent on any one source in case they’re not successful. As well as independent fundraising (collections tins, car boot sales, and sponsored events) there are other options which may be worth pursuing -
- Take a look over on our Fundraising and Grants Page
- Set up an Online Donation site e.g. GoFundMe
- Websites such as Easy Fundraising
- Search Grants for projects that regenerate public parks of national or local heritage value.
- As your music park or trail should be inclusive explore grants for children and young people with additional needs and disabilities
- Local fundraising groups (Rotary, Lions, Church) - We have many wonderful stories to tell of projects completed thanks to the generosity of local service clubs such as Rotary, Lions, and Kiwanis. For example the Montezuma Lions Club, who helped see the local Elementary School playground receive a wonderful new musical makeover. Or Beaver Dam Rotary who created a wonderful riverside music trail in their downtown area.
STAGE FIVE: Going Ahead
Building your community music garden or project with volunteers instead of professionals will take time and effort, but the benefits go beyond saving money. Involving the local community is a great way for families or individuals to meet and for new residents to get involved. Once finished the community will have created a space for everyone to be proud of.
Whatever the size and complexity of your project, we do recommend that you have a few skilled individuals to hand. Our comprehensive installation instructions will guide you through the nuts and bolts of the project but a little experience or skilled labor is always a good idea. An added bonus is that once your volunteers have done a great job, many will have picked up some valuable skills along the way!
Product-specific installation instructions are sent with each product although you can download a replacement if required
We also make all our products as readily assembled as possible; any assembly required is clearly laid out to ease the installation process.
Wait! We can provide further assistance
Percussion Play works with a number of partners who are experienced and professional playground specialists located across the world. This means that our customers get the best possible service from what is often a local supplier, as well as being able to access the best outdoor musical instruments on the market.
Let us know what you are looking for and we can put you in touch with one of our partners with no obligations. Please feel free to contact us
We are happy to help.