Well-designed and accessible public spaces are an incredibly important asset to our towns and cities. They provide opportunities for people to come together and play a vital role in the social and economic life of communities. 

Successfully designed outdoor public spaces are inclusive of the diversity of groups present within the community and create social places for everyone in that society to meet and participate. Indeed, the social value of open space lies in the opportunities it provides for social interaction, social mixing, and social inclusion. Creating a space that successfully engages people is an art form that heavily relies on innovation, accessibility, good design and the input of the community. 

New kinds of public spaces and meeting places are being created in towns, cities and residential areas, including downtown locations, street markets, shopping precincts, community centers, parks, and neighborhood spaces. They include play areas, event or performance spaces as well as areas for rest and relaxation.

There are many factors that contribute to successful public spaces that are not solely in the hands of the architect, urban designer, or town planner; they also rely on people adopting, using, and managing the space – it’s true that people make places, more than places make people.

Child-friendly outdoor public spaces are especially important. They give young people an arena to learn some of the rules of communal life, exchange ideas, cement friendships, and learn new skills. It is imperative that cities and regions consider a more holistic approach to child development and supporting new and creative ways to foster and sustain learning beyond the classroom.  One innovative approach to bringing education into the public realm is through playful learning - supporting adult-child interactions and neighborhood engagement in places where children and families regularly spend time. Alternative learning experiences that can heighten interest, spark creativity, and are socially interactive.  

With their unusual shapes and wonderful sounds, outdoor musical instruments are both conversation starters and people magnets. They add a fun touch to public spaces whilst also being educational, therapeutic, and engaging. Intended to bring people together in unexpected ways, they foster exchange between the player and the passers-by - creating a comfortable atmosphere for individuals to truly express themselves while interacting with each other. 

Putting an interesting twist on traditional playground equipment, outdoor musical instruments in a public space bring about opportunities for parents, grandparents, and guardians to share an activity with their children, explore their curiosity and teach them (or learn alongside them) new musical skills as well as a range of motor and social skills. Exploring the instruments can instigate conversations around a number of subjects including language, culture, color, and numbers.

Now more than ever we are seeing the importance of expanding opportunities for playful learning—that is, child-directed experiences that are driven by curiosity and exploration—outside of the classroom. Outdoor musical instruments can help transform everyday spaces into powerful learning opportunities for children and families. Easily installed and without requiring too much space or expensive surfacing, they can be used to reinvent everyday spaces as fun learning opportunities that organically prompt the kinds of interactions that help children thrive. Changing everyday spaces and making them more extraordinary.

Challenging our town and city planners to recognize the benefits of reimagining our public spaces as positive playful learning opportunities for all learners, young or old and with varying abilities, should see vibrant, welcoming spaces for everyone to use and enjoy. 

Music has always been a powerful way to bring people together and we have a vision for creating family-friendly musical oases in towns and cities across the world.


Author: Percussion Play