Recently, my children and I took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, where my daughters asked to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame because they had read about it. Checking out the exhibits and interactive activities had a lasting impact on them. The experience even inspired Samantha to do her own performance of an original song during her visit! Featured today on Theresa’s Reviews, you can check out how the Country Music Hall of Fame provided inspiration.
Finding Inspiration at the Country Music Hall of Fame
We started our visit in the Taylor Swift Education Center. Right away, the exhibit grabs the attention of children and adults alike with displays of items Taylor Swift has actually used and worn in her music videos. There is also a large Songwriting Station where children can brainstorm song ideas, the tempo, and the mood on whiteboards. Other whiteboards were shared on the wall as an example.
Behind a door at the Taylor Swift Education Center, a songwriting camp was happening for children ages 11 – 18. Students appeared comfortable and to be having fun.
Since my children were younger, we didn’t do the camp, but there were many hands-on activities. On the day we visited, the activity was button making. With photos of musical icons, such as Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift, you could also add fun accessories, like sparkly tape and sequins, to create a button.
On other days in July 2019, you can create puppets, have one-on-one mentoring sessions with a professional songwriter, make an outlaw bandana, and design outlaw vests. You can also attend an interview with singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves, and listen to singer/songwriters Donna Ulisse, Sarah Allison Turner, and Chip Taylor.
In addition to the organized activities with instructors, there are creative activities around every corner. We spent a couple hours here, but I easily could have entertained my children there for longer! One example is that as we left the education center, there was a wall encouraging children to leave a post-it notes writing about what music means to them.
When Samantha wrote, “It connects to me. It makes me happy,” I could tell that the visit had really touched and inspired her. The lasting impact was easy to see in her writing.
Georgiana wrote that she enjoys singing, and it was clear that the visit was encouraging her love of music too.
In another activity, pressing a button would spin a giant record, which then it gave you three topics to write a song about. After writing the song idea down on a post-it note, you would place it on the record.
While we explored the museum, my daughters walked with their cousin Casper, who was a bit young to do a lot of the activities, but seemed to enjoy exploring with us!
As we got to the Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring 70’s exhibit, across from photos of country music legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, we came across the lyrics written by Casper’s grandfather. He is the grandson of country singer-songwriter Gary P. Nunn, who wrote “London Homesick Blues (Home with the Armadillo),” which was about touring in London, while being homesick for Texas. Some songs written by Gary P. Nunn were even recorded by Rosanne Cash, Willie Nelson, and others!
While my daughters and several other children were excitedly taking part in an interactive game on the floor where they stomped on armadillos, it was neat seeing the lyrics about the armadillos of Texas written by him hanging on the wall.
The museum impressed me with its interactive activities for children. One table had papers for designing a future instrument. This was a great way to encourage creative thinking and original ideas. The GonGoogle by Samantha in the above photo is half piano, half tambourine, and half guitar, it sounds like a guitar and violin, and it uses a bow.
Even though this was a museum, you can expect much more than learning from artifacts. The goal for younger visitors seems to be encouraging a love of music, not the memorization of facts.
Next, we went to the Music Machine. There, you complete a personality survey. Some example questions were whether you enjoy team sports or playing independently and whether you prefer playing outside at recess or reading. After, it tells you which role you would be most likely to do in the music industry. Some roles it can give include social media manager, graphic designer and for the less creative people, the tour bus driver.
My daughter was excited to get the Songwriter! After exploring the museum, it was clear that was her dream. Earlier this year, she won a school award for an original song she wrote, but visiting the museum was further encouraging her to follow this passion.
Although much of the museum focused on creative, interactive activities, there is still memorization and learning to do in order to become successful as a musician. To make learning the parts of a guitar more exciting, you could actually climb inside a giant one!
Then, walk inside the Taylor Swift tour bus section! There, you can record one of Taylor Swift’s songs in a recording booth and mix songs.
Overall my children were very excited to see the beautiful dresses on display, the creative song lyrics, and instruments. They found inspiration in the activities! After, my daughter Georgiana got her very first instrument, a ukulele at Two Old Hippies, where Samantha saw a sign for kids open mic and immediately asked to sign up with her original song “Tomorrow You Are Leaving.” Check out her performance!
Even though inspiration comes from many places, visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame provided an extra bit of confidence to encourage a passion for music that will be long lasting.