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Music Education Team gets interactive at 7th Mile of Music

Thanks to a $7,500 grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation, Mile of Music will provide up to 50 free, hands-on, live music and cultural education activities to engage and educate kids and adults of all ages during this year’s event in downtown Appleton August 1-4.


By Ed Berthiaume, director of public information, Lawrence University

If you’re counting the Miles, it’s about to be seven. If you’re counting the number of people who have taken part in the Mile of Music festival’s interactive music education sessions, well, it’s about to surpass 25,000.

Look for another heavy dose of music education when the annual all-original music festival returns to downtown Appleton on Aug. 1.

The Music Education Team — led by Leila Ramagopal Pertl, the festival’s music education curator and an instructor of music education at Lawrence University — will present nearly 50 interactive music events Aug. 1-4, all designed to get festival-goers intimately involved in the making of music.

It’s been an integral part of the fun since the festival was launched seven years ago. The music education component continues this year courtesy of a grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

Mile of Music — billed this year as Mile 7 — features nearly 900 musical performances in 70 venues in and around downtown Appleton. Within that musical blitz, in Houdini Plaza, on street corners, in alleys, on the Lawrence Conservatory green, and in various indoor locales, you’ll find the Music Education Team collaborating with festival-goers who range from musical novices to curious experimenters.

“Music education brings people back to a human truth — that music-making is a birthright,” Ramagopal Pertl says. “We know this as kids, but soon forget it and stop believing that we were all born to be musically creative beings. I don’t know of any other festival in the country that focuses on music education the way we do in Appleton with such dynamic and thought-provoking experiences.”

The Music Education Team includes 28 members, many of them with close ties to the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, and their instruction cuts across a wide swath of music-making cultures, from Native American flute, Mariachi and Balinese angklung to Brazilian samba drumming, Indian dance and hip-hop.

Music education was trumpeted as a key part of Mile of Music when festival co-founders Dave Willems and Cory Chisel first rolled out the festival in 2013. That first year saw 13 music education events led by five volunteer instructors. It reached an estimated 2,000 people. The festival now features nearly 50 events each year, with 7,000 community members taking part.

“How beautiful is that?” Ramagopal Pertl asks. “What a profound statement of what our community supports and values.”


You can make the Bright Ideas burn even brighter by adding your support.

Check out our current Bright Idea Fund results from 2018 – 2019!
See how our Bright Idea Fund impacted our community last year.

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