Make Music Day 2023 — a celebration of music worldwide — is coming up on June 21st. And with an evident love of music here in Little D, there’s no wondering why Denton would participate in the day’s commemoration.
The City of Denton has a full day planned for Make Music Day, which is discussed in further detail below.
And let’s also take a look at some businesses and groups here in Denton where you can march to the beat of your own drum.
Make Music Day Denton
Denton has been celebrating Make Music Day since 2018, says Christina Davis, business development administrator for the City of Denton.
“I think that for Denton, because we have so many musicians and people in the music industry, people love live music, it’s just natural for us to want to participate in a worldwide event that celebrates something we love, which is music,” she explains.
“We like to focus on activities for kids because those are the building blocks and we want to get them involved young and let them see how fun music can be,” Davis says. “And it doesn’t have to be serious or hard — it’s just a great way to express yourself.”
From 10:00 am to 11:00 am at the Denton Senior Center, kids can bang out some beats during the Kids Drum Jam featuring different types of African drums. “The drum master teaches children a few rhythm notes and he talks about the different sounds the drums can make,” Davis details. “They do some rhythms and they do different little exercises to learn about, experience, and feel what it’s like to be part of a drum circle.”
Also during that time, kids have the opportunity to touch and play a variety of instruments during the Instrument Petting Zoo. “Kids can actually pick up an instrument, feel it, and see what it’s like to hold in their hands,” Davis says. “What it’s like to try to blow through a trombone or maybe a flute or some other kind of instrument that they might not have been introduced to before.”
Throughout the day, kids and their parents can visit a number of downtown businesses to get their music “passport” stamped as they learn about different musicians from Denton. Once their music passport is filled up, they can redeem it at Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream for free ice cream.
While there are lots of activities for kids during the day, there is lots of music for adults to enjoy in the evening. Starting at 4:00 pm, Denton’s Twilight Tunes will feature performances by the Denton Youth Symphony, School of Rock, and The Rhythm Company on the east side of the Courthouse-on-the-Square lawn.
And Davis says a number of live music venues in Denton will also be hosting concerts that evening. “It’s a great way to learn more about what’s at the heart of Denton, which is music,” she continues. “This is a great way for them to get their feet wet … and just learn about music in general. We’re hoping that people will provide feedback and share their comments so that we can improve the event every year and include more things that will bring more people out.”
Notably Creative opened about a year ago in Denton and offers music lessons for all instruments, ages, and music styles, says Owner Ray Gore.
Students have the opportunity to take either individual or group lessons. And for those who want to learn music literacy — the ability to read music — students can opt to take their online video-based education program called RC Theory.
“For the kids to memorize stuff, is really tough in today’s age because there’s so much other stimulus and distractions,” Gore explains. “These (RC Theory) videos are done to teach music literacy are done in a very kind of TikTok modern way, and the kids love them. And we have the adults using them, too.”
Additionally, Notably Creative offers an outdoor performance stage for students to showcase what they’ve learned. “What we found is that if you make the performances more frequent, then the kids practice to the performance,” Gore says. “They get excited about it and then they focus more and then they learn more easily whatever you’re doing so.”
In addition to music lessons, Notably Creative also offers instrument rentals and repairs. “We have the first instrument repair school in Texas that we’re aware of,” Gore adds. “We do string repairs, band instrument repairs, … and we are teaching people how to do repairs.”
“Music is meant for people to get together and bond,” Gore continues. “It’s just for a good time and joy, and there’s not enough of that going on in the world. Social bonding — that’s what music is there for. For enjoyment and fun and forget about the worries of the day. I think that’s the key thing.”
Denton New Horizons Senior Band
For adults who want to come back to music after playing in school or want to learn how to play an instrument for the first time, you may want to consider joining the Denton New Horizons Senior Band.
“Most members are within a 40 to 90-year-old range,” explains Dr. Debbie Rohwer, Regents Professor of music education at UNT and director of the Denton New Horizons Senior Band. “Members come from all walks of life, are both working and retired and play the entire range of instruments you can find in a traditional concert band.”
Formed in February 1998, the band usually has about 75 members and performs two concerts yearly. One is usually during the last week of April at the Denton Senior Center and in December at the Denton Christian Preschool.
There is no audition to join the band, Dr. Rohwer says — members just need to either play or want to learn to play a band instrument. And while there is no cost to participate, Dr. Rohwer says they will take donations of $30 each semester for those who are comfortable making that donation.
Dr. Rohwer says the Denton New Horizons Senior Band shows that healthy, active aging is attainable and can be very enjoyable. “Whether band members are still working or retired, they come together each Monday and enjoy each other’s company while making music,” she continues. “Some wives of retired band members have told me that the band saved their marriage because it got their husbands out of the house and gave the wives some needed space! Band members have also told me that during times of struggle such as their own health issues or the passing of a spouse, the band has been a place of comfort where they have friends who support them.”
“For the Denton community, having grandchildren come to concerts to see their happy, engaged, musical grandparents is an important lesson,” Dr. Rohwer added. “It shows that retirement/aging is not an ending but the beginning of a new, enjoyable stage of life.”
For more information on joining the Denton New Horizons Senior Band, visit their website.
Denton Community Chorus
If singing is your thing, consider joining the Denton Community Chorus.
Formed in 1970, the chorus currently has about 25 members ranging in age from mid-20s to late 70s, says Tim McGaugh, former music director for nine years and this year’s accompanist. “It’s actually grown a little bit, especially post-COVID,” he adds.
The chorus performs twice a year in May and December. Both performances and weekly Monday rehearsals occur at St. Paul Lutheran Church at 7:00 pm. The chorus is currently on summer break and McGaugh says rehearsals will resume in September.
While the December concert is focused on holiday music, McGaugh says the spring concert can be music from any genre. In the past the chorus has done a Broadway classics show and just last month, they had a Gospel-focused concert.
As far as joining the chorus, McGaugh says all a person needs to do is to show up at rehearsal. “You don’t have to audition,” he adds. “However, I would like it noted that an ability to read music is very helpful overall, but it shouldn’t keep people away.”
For those considering joining the Denton Community Chorus, McGaugh says it’s a great way to get out and make music as it does not require a large time commitment and it has a very positive effect on people.
“We’ve had a lot of people join that actually came to one of our concerts and they just couldn’t stand it that they weren’t up there singing, too,” he continues. “It just brings people together — the fellowship of being together in the chorus. Busy moms dedicate Mondays to come and we have to run people out of the building at the end of rehearsals because people are just visiting and making friends. It’s a good social outlet.”
Civil Recording Studio
And if you’re ready to make a recording of music, Civil Recording Studio is a place that can help.
The studio is owned and operated by Michael Briggs — an audio engineer who started recording other people’s music in 2006.
“I just started working with friends who needed their music recorded,” Briggs recalls. “At the time, it just felt like they were either kind of doing home recording where they’re by themselves (and) I thought that they could do better. I thought that it wasn’t really doing their music justice. And so I thought I would give it a try and see what I could do.”
From there, Briggs expanded to recording music for people he did not know, eventually creating Civil Recording Studio. Opening the studio in Denton, Briggs says, filled a need at that time as there was a lack of studios that were not very expensive. “I wanted to start out being real affordable and approachable, and then it just kind of grew from there,” he adds.
And Briggs picked Denton after becoming ingrained in the music scene and community while attending UNT. “It’s just a really special place musically. It’s not like other cities of its same size or any other place around it,” he explains. “There’s something special about Denton and so it just felt right.”
At Civil Recording Studio, Briggs helps musicians record their music, whether it’s a single song or a full album. Briggs works with all musicians from all different musical genres, from individual musicians to full bands.
For those considering trying their hand at making — and recording — music, Briggs highly encourages it. “There are multiple good instruction schools in town,” he says. “There’s plenty of places in town to get private lessons from individuals or from small schools, or, of course, the university as well. Denton is a very musically open and accessible place, so I would definitely encourage people to try it out, maybe take a few lessons, and see where it goes.”