Playing a giant keyboard with your feet isn’t as easy as it looks in that famous scene from “Big,” starring Tom Hanks.

When I try it at Carlsbad’s Museum of Making Music, I jump from key to key but get nothing. A volunteer explains that I have to strike hard with my heel. I follow this advice and bang out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the white keys. (After five years of piano lessons, it is sad to say that my repertoire is quite limited.)

Still, this is a fun way to make music, and there are plenty of other opportunities to experiment with real instruments — guitars, pianos, harps, drums, chimes and some bizarre electronic things that will have kids and adults testing, exploring and playing.

The NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit organization that “celebrates and promotes the intrinsic value of music education,” and the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), a trade association for musical instrument manufacturers, jointly opened the museum in 2000.

Peter Harrington, 10, jumps on a giant keyboard at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. Courtesy photo
Peter Harrington, 10, jumps on a giant keyboard at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. Courtesy photo

Peter and Molly Harrington, ages 10 and 6, respectively, play a technical keyboard at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. Courtesy photo
Peter and Molly Harrington, ages 10 and 6, respectively, play a technical keyboard at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. Courtesy photo

The foundation, among other things, provides money for community programs and research on the lifetime benefits of playing musical instruments.

In April, the museum held a grand reopening to showcase its extensive renovations that have created more interactive spaces, learning galleries and historical presentations that exemplify the “many, many ways to learn about and enjoy music.”

“No other museum tells the story of the making, distribution and use of musical instruments in this way,” says marketing manager B. J. Morgan. “We focus on the people, families, and businesses behind the instruments. Our hope is that people discover that there are many, many ways to be involved in making music and that they find their own place within this community. We want to make music as accessible as possible.”

The museum also hosts monthly concerts — jazz, rock and classical — in its 200-seat theater, which provides “an intimate musical experience.”





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