Martinsville-on-the-Move brings Music to their Community

Martinsville is a small town in Illinois with just 1100 people and is lucky enough to have a group of volunteers who aim to support community development and activities.

Martinsville-on-the-Move was set up in 2009. Since then, they have, among other projects, created Linn Park with an amphitheater to hold outdoor events, contributed to the beautification of the downtown area, and given scholarships to local students. Most recently, they have bought music to their community by creating a musical memorial park using outdoor musical instruments.

Two years ago, the group decided to develop a new park in Martinsville; notably, it had to be fun and accessible for all – adults and children. They focused on a play area with a 90ft slide and a 200ft zip line and added adult outdoor exercise equipment. Still, they were keenly aware these elements were not wholly inclusive – people with disabilities might find it hard to use slides and zip lines.

At this time, the group was also looking to create a lasting memorial to Bob Hills, a former Martinsville resident. They thought outdoor musical instruments would be a fitting tribute to Bob, who loved music, having established the Newcomers Swing Choir at Western Illinois University, where he also taught. He helped with high school musical productions and directed his church choir. He finished teaching at his alma mater, Eastern Illinois University, where he re-established the Collegians Music Group. Enough money was raised to purchase one instrument through the Bob Hills Memorial fundraiser. A grant from the Hershey Foundation, one from the Linn Foundation, and one from Martinsville-on-the -Move plus a contribution of $5000 from an anonymous donor, made it possible to purchase the instruments.

Martinsville-on-the-move aimed to create a beautiful walking path in “The Woodlands,” with the instruments being a focal point. Most importantly, they would be all-inclusive, meaning everyone could enjoy them.

The group chose to order an Alto Quartet Ensemble, Capella and accompanying Music Book as well as a pair of Talk Tubes. Having received the instruments in the cold Illinois winter, the group wisely delayed the installation to the Spring, and in March, the space was officially open to the community.

Brenda Littlejohn, a member of Martinsville-on-the-Move, says, “we are delighted by the response from the community to our new instruments in the park. They provide a new element to the area, and people enjoy coming here to make music”.

Brenda says the most popular instrument is the Capella and accompanying Music Book, along with the drums.

The group has spoken with local music teachers who have said how great the musical instruments are for the community, and they plan to bring students to the park to create music.

Brenda says, “The outdoor musical instruments are a great addition that helps make The Woodlands a favorite destination for those from surrounding communities in our area.”