Sheffield City Center Adapts Outdoor Space to Encourage Intergenerational Recreation, Increase Creativity and Nurture Young Talent

Sheffield's city center has a new attraction that is hitting all the right notes - a brand-new musical park! This exciting new space is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of musicians while also paying homage to Sheffield's many talented music icons, including Def Leppard, Artic Monkeys, and The Human League,

The park on Charter Square was an idea developed by the team at ChangingSheff. This residents' association represents the local community and over 27,000 city center residents. They have worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition, and the City Council successfully delivered it. The park is an interactive addition to this urban area, providing a relaxing space for locals and visitors alike to enjoy, unwind and take in the sights and sounds of the city.

The park, a project that took five years to complete, finally opened last month. It offers eleven Percussion Play instruments, including the Duo Xylophone, Rainbow Cavatina Xylophone with accompanying Music Book, Tubular Bells, Capella, Alto Diatonic Freechimes, Penta Post, Large Babel Drum, Pair of Tumbadoras, Cajon Drum and a Pair of Congas, each with a unique sound and experience. Whether you're a seasoned musician or just looking to have some fun, the park's musical offerings provide hours of entertainment and relaxation for locals and visitors. Careful consideration was taken in choosing the right instruments for the space, focusing on durability, sound levels, and accessibility.

ChangingSheff is encouraging individuals to sponsor an instrument. By doing so, the residents association can utilize the funds to teach music lessons and establish an open-air music school. This will also help fund future concert opportunities and provide entertainment for the public.

Peter Sephton, Chair of ChangingSheff, comments, “It is ten years since my late wife and I saw this idea of outdoor musical instruments in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. We thought it would be a great facility for a musical city like Sheffield, and five years ago ChangingSheff raised it with the Council. In May 2019, we gave a successful demonstration in Balm Green Park at Barkers Pool. Then Covid intervened. However, thanks to the continued support of Councillors and Council officers, here we are - ChangingSheff really appreciates their help - and at last, Stage One is complete, with the instruments in place. Stage Two is to raise funds from instrument dedications. Because we have made the park a tribute to the musicians who have come out of Sheffield these past 50 or so years, we hope some of these will support us in creating a fund to develop young talent to play the instruments.

Public spaces, such as the one shown here in Sheffield, are gaining increasing importance as a component of everyday quality of life, especially in urban areas. Growing public attention to loneliness in our communities has been accompanied by designers and landscape architects beginning to extend the role of open spaces to include various social agendas, including combating loneliness in all ages. The provision and use of these public open spaces (including privately owned spaces with areas for public services, such as shopping malls and community hubs) can be essential in promoting social cohesion, intergenerational connections, and opportunities for shared creativity.

Making music brings people together like nothing else. Offering quality musical opportunities - on real instruments – for spontaneous music-making provides an engaging experience where nobody is excluded from the fun, regardless of ability, mobility, or age.

Music has always been a powerful way to bring people together. Percussion Play has the vision to create inclusive musical oases in towns and cities worldwide to encourage us to connect.