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Renovations earn museum ovations

CARLSBAD — The renovations at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad have earned a standing ovation.
Following a VIP grand reopening reception last month, people are stopping by the museum to see what its new interactive displays and updated exhibits are all about.
Carolyn Grant, executive director at the museum, has heard a flurry of positive feedback. “I’ve been told that our renovation has put the museum on a whole new level,” she said. “We present a unique aspect in the world of music making.”
Although there is a network of other music museums across the nation, Grant said, there is no other museum like theirs. While others focus on celebrity musicians, the history of instruments, or showcase a hall of fame, the Museum of Making Music carved out its own niche.
It covers an era from 1890 to the present. “We didn’t want to repeat what others were doing,” Grant said. “We tell a different story.”
And the new interactive displays and exhibits have really amped up their music story telling.
Visitors are delighted with the six stations at the Innovation Studio. It brims with musical instruments like a keyboard, drum, guitar and bass guitar. People have the choice to play in “plugged in silence” or “unplugged” for all to hear.
Grant said if someone already knows how to play the keyboard, for example, they can spend as much time as they want exploring a new state-of-the-art instrument.
“For the person who has never played a keyboard, there is a video touch screen where you can actually take a lesson and learn three different cords,” she said. When that novice feels confident with those three cords, they can pull up a backing track and play a tune with four professional musicians.
“And if you get really motivated, you can click on another screen which would take the keyboard part out so you can improvise and play along with the other musicians and add your keyboard voice,” Grant said.
Grant said the Innovation Studio was really key since their original opening in 2000. They recognized how people enjoyed a hands-on experience with the instruments.
The Innovation Studio, she said, is advanced enough for the professional player and less intimidating for the beginner. Its versatility is what makes it so intriguing.
Its other popular renovation is called Global Spotlight. On a touch screen, a globe spins 15 countries. Users pick what country they want to learn more about through audio and video clips.
“What’s most innovative is that the clips were carefully chosen,” Grant said. “One clip we entitle echo, meaning it’s an echo of a musical tradition from that country or region.”
Grant said the Global Spotlight experience reminds visitors that we all live in a very large, varied and rich world.
On average, 5,000 to 6,000 kids tour the museum annually. “There are many, many ways to make music and our museum provides that opportunity for children to explore,” she said.
While the museum is a catalyst for a child’s musical curiosity, for adults, it can be a nostalgic walk through memorable tunes or an opportunity to rekindle playing an instrument once again.
The museum teamed up with Academy Studios, a museum design and production company based in Northern California. The exhibits were built on site at Academy Studios, which allowed the museum to stay opened for a large span of time. The renovations took a year, but the museum was only closed from June to July.
The upgrades in technology made a world of difference enabling guests to learn more on many levels.
“Everyone has a place in the world of music making,” Grant said. “Whether you are a listener, player, amateur or professional, music makes life better.”
The Museum of Making Music is located at 5790 Armada Drive in Carlsbad. Call (760) 438-5996 for more information or visit