Pickerington Public Library unveils Children’s Music Garden - Ohio USA

Udderly charming library ambassador, Violet the Cow, officially unveiled the brand-new outdoor Children’s Music Garden at a ribbon-cutting ceremony back in November 2019. Following a performance by Pickerington High School percussion students, Violet (herself a drummer and moo-sician) along with library officials, proudly declared the Pickerington Library Music Garden open.

We've caught up with the team at the Pickerington Public Library (PPL) to see how the music garden has made a difference for both patrons and staff.

Funded by the Friends of the Pickerington Public Library, the music-garden has allowed visitors and patrons of the library to experiment musically in the great outdoors - regardless of their age or ability - while also providing a year-round venue for outdoor programs.

Located to the front of the library’s main branch, the open-access music and reading garden features a Babel Drum, Rainbow Sambas, Rainbow Cavatina and Tubular Bells.

“We’re charged with inspiring knowledge and connecting the community,” library director Tony Howard said. “I think the music gardens fit both because music really ties into education, while also providing an opportunity for pure enjoyment.”

Tony knew the library's dead Rose Garden needed a new lease of life. Searching for technologies and resources for libraries, a colorful company called Percussion Play caught his eye. “It was like a lightbulb went off,” Howard says, “and I said, ‘Oh, this is perfect for that spot.’” Howard gathered research to pitch the Music Garden to the board and Friends of the Pickerington Public Library.

“Research shows that music can enhance fine and gross motor skills, support social and emotional development, improve spatial-temporal awareness, and build language literacy skills,” Howard says. “This is all done through singing, writing and drawing, talking, reading, and playing instruments.”

The board wasn’t hard to convince, and funding for the garden was granted. After that, things moved quickly – Percussion Play recommended certain instruments and created renders of the new space, the pieces were ordered and installed, and the Music Garden officially opened with a ribbon-cutting.

The effects were immediate, Violet – named after the library's first name, the Violet Township Library – and numerous small children were invited to be on hand to test the instruments following the ceremony. Among them were 3-year-old Gigi Carpenter and her sister, Lucy. As the girls were playing on the instruments, their mother, Anna, said she thought the music garden is an enhancement to a library that already offers collections and programs that bring her to Pickerington from her home out of town.

“I think it’s great,” Anna Carpenter said. “We come to Story Time, once a week which they love. Pickerington has the best library, the best Kids Section, the best Story Section. So, the fact they brought this music into the garden - it's excellent.

"Any way to burn up their energy is always great and this is music and dancing,” Carpenter added. “My girls love dancing to music and if they can play around outdoors in the fresh air, it’s even better.”

Lisa Drerup also was on hand with her 5-year-old son, Caleb, and said the music garden is a “great addition to the library. It will introduce instruments and music to kids at a young age. It’s another reason to come to visit the library.”

Tony Howard, Library Director said, “The creation of the Children’s Music Garden helps the library in accomplishing our vision to meet the lifelong learning and enjoyment needs of our citizens and provides a fun and educational space outside of the building that is accessible to all.”

“We recognize the benefits that music has on early literacy development by connecting singing, reading, talking in all of our early literacy classes. We hope to see visitors use the garden all year-round.”

The music garden is intended to provide outdoor programming and relaxation spaces. “Our plans were to tie some of our early literacy classes and events to the instruments, bringing the children out and experiencing this in a fun yet educational way,” Howard added.

Colleen Bauman, community engagement manager for PPL, has integrated the garden into programs such as; Early Literacy, Beyond Abilities (learning opportunities for adults with disabilities), and 'Sensory Stories and Play' - an early literacy class specifically designed for children with special needs. “The Music Garden enhances these programs."

However the Music Garden isn’t just for library programs, it’s also a resource for pure joy. The instruments are designed to be used by people of all ages and abilities. Bauman has witnessed groups of teens showing off their musical abilities, and Howard says he often sees parents and kids out there enjoying the instruments regardless of the weather. Howard and Bauman say it’s also a great stress reliever.

“When you walk over and you just tap on that drum, you leave the worries of the day behind,” Howard says. “It may be five minutes of forgetting about the world and just enjoying what you’re doing.” “It’s fun, it’s just fun,” Bauman adds. “There is a release that you feel any time you play a musical instrument.”

If the idea of Libraries becoming the new champions of music education interests you - Click to Read More