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TRAC adds outdoor instruments to Riverside Park

The Two Rivers Arts Council has added Freenotes Harmony Park outdoor musical instruments to Riverside Park in Demopolis.

The project has been funded by a variety of sources, but the idea started with one person – Kelley Tarpley.

D'miya Hawkins, left, and McKenzie Banks play the tuned drums at Riverside Park in Demopolis.

D’miya Hawkins, left, and McKenzie Banks play the tuned drums at Riverside Park in Demopolis.

“My husband and I came across these outdoor instruments while walking through a park in Baltimore,” Tarpley said. “We found ourselves banging on the metal pipes with small anvils, laughing about how we wished we had taken piano lessons. Donn and I made sure that our children always heard music playing, encouraged them to play different instruments and gave them the choice of sports or marching band when they got to middle school. When we returned home, I talked to Morgan Allen about the instruments in the park and wished our community would place similar instruments around the children’s park. Morgan immediately found the company and requested a price quote. The quote didn’t seem outrageous, so we hatched a plan to start fundraisers. Music plays a huge part in my life and often provides solace that words cannot. Hans Christian Andersen said it best, ‘Where words fail, music speaks.'”

TRAC applied for grants and held a shrimp boil fundraiser in the fall of 2014. The fundraiser was a huge success because the community supported it.

Local businesses that helped sponsor the fundraiser included Parr’s Chevron, John Broussard, Malone’s Texaco, Vowell’s Fresh Market and Batter Up. The Alabama Power Foundation donated funds and helped make the dream become a reality. The RC&D Council in Thomasville and the Alabama State Council on the Arts helped provide grant funding for the project.

“Our grant request to the Alabama State Council on the Arts was not originally funded,” said Two Rivers Arts Council President Morgan Allen. “The Alabama Legislature later appropriated more funds to the ASCA, and we received news recently that the grant was funded. We are extremely grateful to Rep. A.J. McCampbell and Sen. Bobby Singleton for making this project possible.”

During the planning process, one of the biggest issues was having the instruments installed. Barbara Blevins, Demopolis city horticulturist, agreed to help install them and advised the arts council on their placement. Mayor Mike Grayson was supportive and allowed the Horticulture Department to install the Tuned Drums and Griffin instrument.

The Freenotes outdoor instruments are for all ages and abilities. Designed with acoustic precision and perfect tone by a Grammy Award winning musician, Freenotes are built to maintain pure and soothing tones through years of rigorous play and exposure to the elements of nature. Freenotes are perfect for musical beginners and experts alike.

The Two Rivers Arts Council hopes the instruments will inspire a love of music and enhance the learning experience of the playground by the river.

Through arts council memberships and donations, TRAC hopes to add more instruments in the future.

If you would like to become a member of the Two Rivers Arts Council or donate funds for more instruments, contact Morgan Allen at (334) 289-1595 or Beverly Youngblood at (334) 289-3669.

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