Get ready for Make Music Day, the DIY festival. You can perform in these 6 NJ towns (2024)

Get ready for New Jersey's DIY music festival.

Six Garden State communities will encourage residents to bring out their voices, guitars, drums and other instruments on June 21 for this year’s annual Make Music Day. The global event invites people of all skill levels, ages and musical genres to turn local parks, downtowns and even their own backyards into performance spaces.

“You have young and old, amateur and professional — it just gives them the chance to go outside and make music,” said Liz Maresca, chairperson of the Arts Council in Fair Lawn, one of the North Jersey towns participating. “We have people who are going to play all over town. The point of this is that you can play on your front porch, you can play on your driveway, you can play pretty much everywhere.”

Get ready for Make Music Day, the DIY festival. You can perform in these 6 NJ towns (2)

6 North Jersey towns will host Make Music Day

Make Music Day originated in France in 1982 as the Fête de la Musique, but the event has spread to other countries since then. Today, it's held every in more than 1,000 cities around the world, according to organizers.

Along with Fair Lawn, New Jersey towns hosting Make Music Days this year include Englewood, Montclair, Paterson, Newark and Atlantic City.

"Singers, church choirs, jazz combos, rock bands, glee clubs, MCs, marching bands, mariachis, and every other kind of musician, of any age group or skill level, are all welcome," the Make Music Fair Lawn webpage explains. "We invite homeowners, store owners and managers to sign up their storefronts, lawns, parking lots, front porches, terraces etc."

Activities planned around the state:

  • Englewood will feature interactive music for kids and adults during the day and a performance by the North Jersey Youth Jazz Orchestra at night.
  • Paterson will hold its first Make Music Day this year with performances at City Hall Plaza and activities for children at the city's public schools.
  • Newark will feature a Sunset Singalong during the day, culminating with a block party at Mulberry Commons.
  • Atlantic City will hold a Midtown Make Music Day at Browns Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with live performances.

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Montclair organizers 'just want music everywhere'

Montclair’s Make Music Day has been going since 2014 and typically features between 80 to 100 performances at 30 venues throughout town, said Greg Pason, director of Indie Arts Montclair, a nonprofit that helps run the event.

Musicians will be active throughout the day in all four wards, from a local shoe store to the library and town parks, said Pason.

“It’s a unique event where we run it almost like a holiday and less like a festival,” he said. “We want to make it feel like this is the day where you can have a barbeque and have music in your backyard. We just want music everywhere.”

Car karaoke coming to Fair Lawn

In Fair Lawn, the event will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Every park in the borough will be open for performances, while many musicians will play in front of businesses on River Road.

The festival debuted in the borough last year when a member of the Arts Council was looking for a venue where her 14-year-old son could play guitar, Maresca said. During their search, they stumbled on Montclair’s version and were inspired.

Organizers in Fair Lawn expected only a handful of people to show up last year, but the community came together to hold 30 events throughout the day, said Maresca. This year, participation is expected to grow as 20 performers have already signed up in 15 venues.

For those whose preferred instrument is their vocal chords, Fair Lawn will also provide a "car-aoke" on June 21. A car loaded with a karaoke system will make stops around town to give people the chance to sing, with plans to potentially offer prizes, said Maresca. The Arts Council’s Instagram and Facebook pages will list the car-aoke's locations throughout the day.

“Maybe someone doesn’t know about Make Music Day or maybe they’re not an instrumental musician but they want to have fun and belt out a song on the corner of a major intersection,” Maresca said.

Get ready for Make Music Day, the DIY festival. You can perform in these 6 NJ towns (3)

Music teacher makes her debut

Maresca’s daughter, Bridget, who now works as a music teacher in Westwood, had just finished getting a degree in music education around the time of last year's festivities. It offered the perfect venue for her to show off her skills to the community for the first time. She performed a pre-kindergarten “Mommy and Me” music session for kids at Berdan Grove Park.

“I got to use all the things I learned in my student teaching,” Bridget Maresca said. “It was a nice way to start the day. We went around and did a bunch of other things too, like performing my guitar in front of the businesses. It was fun."

How to register

Those interested in performing in Make Music Day can sign up at, where you can find information about each individual town's plans.

Stephanie Nodais a local reporter for For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community,please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


Get ready for Make Music Day, the DIY festival. You can perform in these 6 NJ towns (2024)


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