Making music at new Harmony Park

Addison DeHaven/Register: Above, instruments at Harmony Park are tuned to each other and include bongo drums and xylophones. Inspiration for the park came from a Rotary International Convention in Germany. Below, representatives from the Brookings Rotary Club, City of Brookings, Brookings Art Council and Brookings Public Arts Commission are pictured at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Harmony Park last Thursday.

BROOKINGS – The Brookings Rotary Club, the Brookings Public Arts Commission, the City of Brookings and the Brookings Arts Council officially opened “Harmony Park,” a percussive musical playground located at Larson Park, last week.

The park is a “group of musical sculptures” that are interactive when used. According to Kay Norton of the Brookings Rotary Club, the colorful sculptures are all tuned to each other.

“If two people are playing two different instruments, they are tuned to each other,” Norton said. “They are all percussive instruments.”

The instruments include a xylophone and bongo drums, created to look like a flower and a mushroom, decorated in a colorful manner.

The inspiration for the park came when a few local Rotary club members attended the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany. When they were there, they saw a “wonderful musical sculpture exhibit” in one of the public parks and “they just loved it.”

“They brought the idea back and connected with the Brookings Arts Council, who then recommended it might be part of the Brookings Art Commission,” Norton said.

According to the Rotary Grant application for Harmony Park, the City of Brookings has a dedicated Public Arts Fund, overseen by the Public Arts Commission, which pledged $10,000 toward the project. Rotary matched the $10,000 pledge, $5,000 coming from a matching Rotary International grant and $5,000 coming from the local Rotary budget, which was implemented into their 2020-21 budget. A total of $20,000 was used to purchase and install the instruments.

“The Brookings Park and Rec Department also assisted us a great deal and put in a lot of labor,” Norton added.

To write a grant for Rotary International, the project needs to fall in one of seven areas of focus, according to Norton. The area of focus for this particular grant was “basic education and literacy.”

“Music touches children’s learning and play,” Norton said. “And of course, for children, play is learning. Music exposes them to all sorts of opportunities that kind of translate that into their learning of other subjects like science, math and literacy.”

In the past, Rotary has assisted with a number of projects in the Brookings community including “Born Learning Trails,” located at Hillcrest and McClemans parks. According to Norton, “During COVID, our local club was involved with 19 service projects.”

“Some were food drives, some were coat drives. We assisted with some projects at McCrory Gardens,” Norton said.

For more information about the Brookings Rotary Club, contact President Don Norton at [email protected] Brookings Rotary, now in its 101st year of service to the community, meets each Tuesday at 12 p.m. at the Brookings Activity Center, with a Zoom option available.

The club is part of Rotary International, a service organization with more than 1.2 million members in 35,000 clubs in about 200 countries and territories around the world. This year’s international theme is “Serve to Change Lives.”

Contact Addison DeHaven at [email protected]



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