An Observation and Analysis of the Social and Cultural Aspects of Community Music Events On the first Friday of each month from July through October, the Wilson, North Carolina Human Relations Office organizes a free community concert, family entertainment and educational opportunities located on the lawn at the Wilson County Library. They use music and activities to bring together a diverse community (www. wilsonnc. org par. 1). On July 2nd, 2010, Wilson’s 1st Friday on the Lawn began with a presentation of the Colors by a local Boy Scout Troop.
They were followed by a local R&B band, a magic show, a clogging group, and a high energy dance band. There was a water mister and a giant inflatable obstacle course for the kids, as well as balloons. There were five different community organizations in attendance, providing educational opportunities and allowing the attendees to see what each organization had to offer the citizens of Wilson. Wilson City and County police, fire and rescue were all well-represented and mingled with the crowd, introducing themselves and answering questions.
There were several food vendors in attendance and turkey legs, fried fish, and pizza were just a few of the options. Most of the concert goers brought lawn chairs or blankets with them so they could rest when they weren’t dancing on the grass or on the dance floor laid down on the lawn. Wilson’s 1st Fridays on the Lawn concert series utilizes the draw of the universal language of music to help to keep the channels of communication open between the various racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups within the city. (City of Wilson Human Relations Office pamphlet). Music is one of the great pleasures of life.
Making music is a human activity for, about, and open to all people (Knox par. 1). Cooperation from musicians, singers, and band members is required in order to present a harmonious performance. Cooperation and collaboration with the audience is required in order for all to fully enjoy the performance. Based on observations, the participants at this concert series seemed to have come together for the same reasons – to visit with family and friends, to learn something about their community that they didn’t know, to share a meal, to allow their children to play with other children, and to enjoy a cool vening outside. All of these activities promoted a sense of camaraderie. But the main reason people seemed to have come to the concert was for the music. None of the interactions at this event encouraged competition. The 1st Fridays Concerts on the Lawn series is designed to bring diverse populations together for music, fellowship, and fun, thereby creating a sense of belonging and shared goals. Community organizations set up booths to educate concert goers about the services the organizations offer to the Wilson community.
Potential musical acts and vendors are encouraged to fill out an online application and are chosen in part based on their anticipated appeal to the community, based on survey cards filled out by attendees. A different genre of music is offered each month to appeal to different demographics of the community. (Smith, Renee. Personal Interview). “In North America, our sense of community depends on our establishing connections across our ethnic and racial individuality.
With music we can extend the sense of community beyond our time, our place, even our world” (DeGraffenreid, Fowler, Gerber, Lawrence 524). Encouragement of cultural values and goals can be observed in several activities at the concert series, including the music. Each month the evening begins with the presentation of Colors by a local Boy Scout Troop. Community police, fire and rescue personnel have a large uniformed presence at the event as community partners. They interact with the crowd, talking to people and answering questions.
The fire department in particular was available for questions from children about the fire trucks and a firefighter’s job. The community organizations with educational booths encouraged people to participate more fully in their local community. The cultural values expressed through music depends on the type of music offered each month. Some of the genres included in the past have been gospel, country, rock and roll, classical, hip hop, reggae, Latino, and dance music.
Each genre may have its historic roots in a particular part of culture but every concert brings a wide variety of individuals out to listen. Wilson’s 1st Fridays on the Lawn promotes citizenship by bringing the community together for a musical event and encouraging all concert attendees to partake in community events; to get to know their local police, fire and rescue; and to learn about and to make use of the various community resources that are available to them. Music can bring together people of different races, ethnicities, and cultures.
It enriches our lives and can function as a form of social communication. Music is one of the ways we define ourselves, both as individuals and as societies. There are many types of music for many purposes but all of the different types bring us together. There is music for national events; personal milestones such as birthdays and weddings; festivals for religious celebrations, political, and social events; condolences for casualties and fallen heroes; and protest music. Music is one of the clearest ways we express and share our humanity….
It emerges from the social fabric of our culture to speak directly to all our different personalities. With it we establish our identity as a people living in a particular place at a particular time…. It serves the dynamic juxtaposition of different ethnic groups, classes, and lifestyles that abound in our cities. As our culture has become more global, our music has absorbed and combined musical elements from many cultures (DeGraffenreid, Fowler, Gerber, Lawrence 526). Learning about other cultures through music can promote understanding, respect and goodwill among all citizens.
There is no doubt that the power of music can influence and inspire change in a local, national or global community. Wilson’s 1st Fridays on the Lawn and the music provided there enhances the quality of life for the people and communities of the City of Wilson. The event encourages all citizens to get involved in their communities and allows them to find out how to utilize the resources of the City of Wilson Human Relations Office to meet their social, cultural, and political needs. Works Cited DeGraffenreid, George; Charles Fowler, Timothy Gerber, Vincent Lawrence.
Music! It’s Role and Importance in Our Lives. Teacher Annotated Edition. NY: McGraw-Hill. 2006. Print. Human Relations Office. City of Wilson Human Relations Office pamphlet. Wilson NC. n. d. Print. Human Relations Office. Web. 6 July 2010. <http://www. wilsonnc. org/> Knox, Roger. “Adapted Music as Community Music. ” International Journal of Community Music A. 1 (2004): n. pag. Web. 5 July 2010. Smith, Renee. Interview. Commentary on Wilson’s 1st Friday’s on the Lawn. By Leanne Brown. Wilson NC. 2 July 2010. Personal Interview.