6th annual Make Music Chicago brings the music to the masses

Time to bust out the kazoos; the sixth annual Make Music Chicago festival will take place all across the city on Tuesday, June 21. And yes, it’s also the longest day of the year. As parents know all too well, any day where their kids play nonstop music is the longest day of the year. Luckily, Make Music Chicago brought in the pros.

Presented by Rush Hour Concerts, this completely free event is the perfect way to kick off summer. You’ll need every second of that day to take full advantage of the joyful musical happening around town, from the Sea Shanty Singalong, “the surprise hit of last year” (at the Chicago French Market in the West Loop) to the Old Town School of Folk Music-led Harmonica Blowout (at the Welles Park Gazebo in Lincoln Square) which provides–and your kids are gonna love this one–harmonicas for playing along.

Classical pianist and Make Music Chicago Artistic Director Kuang-Hao Huang, who has been involved with the festival since 2011 and at its helm since 2014, has “a soft spot for Sousapalooza (at Daley Plaza).” He confesses that it’s the one time of year to “grab my trombone and relive my band days.”

Huang believes that Make Music Chicago and its events are truly for everyone, regardless of musical prowess or age. In fact, his own kids (ages 11 and 13) will be performing in the festival; his daughter (alongside Huang’s wife) with the Rise and Shine Orchestra and members of the CSO, and his son with Sousapalooza.

Other unexpected and marvelous events include +9v: A Community Concert for Battery Powered Instruments (Comfort Station in Logan Square) and the Uke Jam (Aloha Center Chicago in Lincoln Square) for island-style playing with all experience levels. Tiny aficionados will adore the dedicated kid programming, like a concert with the award-winning The Lucky Trikes at Maggie Daley Park, the West Loop’s Suzuki Play-along and especially the School’s Out Jam in Uptown, where musicians 16 and under will be celebrating the last day of Chicago Public Schools. (Cue Alice Cooper, parents!)

For updates on performances and locales, check out www.makemusicchicago.org. The really savvy will want to download the Make Music Day app to join with 700 cities who’ll all be celebrating on June 21.

Ready to rock, Chicago? As Huang attests, “[the playalongs] really make up the heart of the day … they’re the ones that welcome anyone to come and play. Let’s just get together and make some music.”

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