Harmony Park, an Outdoor Musical Play Ground!

Colonial Trail’s Outdoor Musical Classroom is
incredible! From finalizing the budget to selecting a site to
developing detailed landscape design plans to
determining the instruments...everything fell
right in place for this educational project which
promises to inspire cultural arts, rhythm, and
movement for our school community.

At a Glance:

  • The grassy area behind the western side of the
    Colonial Trail Elementary bus loop is the location
    of Harmony Park. The site design is complete and
    two dozen trees have already been planted in the Park.
  • Harmony Park features a carefully selected suite
    of unique custom-made percussion musical instruments
    from Freenotes, Inc. including: Contrabass Chimes
    (set of seven), Glass Imbarimba, Manta Ray, Large
    Amadinda and Tuned Drums (eighteen in total).

  • To complement the school colors, and to highlight
    the natural setting, the CTES colors of blue,
    green and tan were specified for the instruments.

  • It is planned to be installed and ready for student
    and community use and enjoyment by April 30, 2009.

  • The formal dedication for Harmony Park is scheduled
    for May 19, 2009 at 9 a.m. and will include student
    involvement, musical performances, and special guests
    (suggestions and ideas are welcome).

  • Outdoor Musical Instrument
    Want to see and hear these incredible instruments at
    harmony Park?

    Visit Freenotes.

    Harmony Park: A Closer Look Behind
    the Scenes.

    Parents, staff and teachers at Colonial Trail,
    Henrico County Public School officials and
    professional consultants have dedicated many hours
    to bring this project to fruition. With a project
    this ambitious, there are many steps which had to be
    completed including grant research, writing and reporting;
    site selection; landscape design and installation; safety
    and security planning; storage for the instruments prior
    to installation; budgeting and cash flow planning; the
    bidding/procurement process through the county for
    various purchased goods and services; and instrument
    selection/ordering. Outdoor Musical Instruments
    Site Design and Selection

    Site selection included a detailed analysis of safety,
    acoustics, drainage patterns, electrical requirements,
    shade, security, accessibility, topography, soil
    compatibility and integration with the long-term
    physical plan for the school campus. The site was
    determined with the approval and involvement of
    John Barber, HCPS Safety Coordinator and
    Nancy Dransfield, landscape
    architect with Landesign of Virginia, Inc. who designed the site plan.

    Additionally, a soil analysis of the area was conducted to
    evaluate the site for drainage and soil quality and stability.


    Just after the site selection was finalized,
    Henrico County Public Schools provided several
    Crape Myrtles, Purple Leaf Plums, Zelkova, Oaks,
    Maples, and Cherry Trees for both the overall school
    campus and for the Harmony Park site. After
    consulting with other schools and park systems
    already using outdoor musical instruments by
    Freenotes, Inc., the decision was made to install the
    instruments directly on the grass instead of creating
    a mulched area. This will be more cost effective and will
    minimize maintenance to the site. Nancy Dransfield, the landscape architect working
    on the project,
    created a plan to maximize
    the placement and installation of these trees which
    are now planted and being cared for by parent volunteers
    and the maintenance staff at Colonial Trail
    Elementary. Considerations such as shade,
    accessibility, aesthetics, instrument placement and
    acoustics were addressed in the placement of these
    donated trees on the Harmony Park site.

    Outdoor Musical Instrument
    Selection of Instruments

    Freenotes, Inc. manufactures dozens of different kinds
    of indoor and outdoor musical instruments. Hence, the
    process to finalize this particular suite of instruments,
    specifically selected for and by Colonial Trail, was
    extensive and required many weeks of planning and
    volunteer hours.

    One of the major goals of the project was to provide
    enough instruments for a minimum of 25 students to play
    as part of the classroom-structured, SOL-based lesson
    or exploratory free play. Additionally, complementary
    tones, tuning and range of the instruments were analyzed.
    And, finally, the logistics of the physical placement
    of each instrument per the landscape design was strongly

    Many people were involved in the process of
    selecting instruments.
    So in preparing for
    the instrument order, Mr. Cantone and the parent
    volunteers consulted with the Colonial Trail Elementary
    School music teachers; the landscape
    architect for Harmony Park, Nancy Dransfield;
    and, the instrument designer from
    Freenotes, Inc. on multiple occasions. Since all
    of the teachers on the Colonial Trail Elementary
    School music staff were new in 2008-2009, in
    September, Mr. Cantone and the parent volunteers
    sought their input into the selection of the
    instruments and site selection process. Additionally,
    interviews with several organizations where the
    instruments are currently installed in schools and
    playgrounds, as well as with several music specialists
    in percussion and world music helped inform the decision
    on the instruments.


    The County and the school are currently obtaining
    formal bids from contractors for the installation
    of the instruments. A vendor will be finalized by
    the end of January. Installation of the instruments,
    which are set in concrete, is scheduled for March 2009,
    ideally after the last hard freeze of the season.
    The timing of the instrument installation and the
    voluminous storage requirements for the instruments were
    carefully considered as part of the decision on when
    to place the instrument order.

    Lesson Plans

    Colonial Trail Elementary School teachers have
    already developed, and are continuing to develop,
    a portfolio of lesson plans for Harmony Park which
    will include science, music, technology, art, math,
    social studies and physical education SOL’s.


    Harmony Park project is a special project being
    managed directly by Colonial Trail Elementary School.
    In July 2008, Mr. Cantone and the team of parent
    volunteers began meeting every other week to plan
    and execute the Harmony Park project. This team
    of parent volunteers serves as advisors to Mr.
    Cantone. The team of parents includes Laura O’Brien,
    Linda Saksvig, Julie Gigante, Linda Levine and
    Michael and Margaret Storti. A team of Colonial
    Trail Teachers, made up of the grade level chairs,
    is also designated as advisors to Mr. Cantone regarding Harmony


    Harmony Park is partially funded by a generous
    donation of $10,000 from the Colonial Trail
    Elementary PTA.

    The Henrico Education Foundation grant of $2,580
    was awarded in August 2008 and deposited in the
    school bank account.

    Additionally, Mr. Cantone and the parent volunteers
    were successful in obtaining a $10,000 grant from
    Partners in the Arts. The Partners in the Arts grant
    is provided in incremental payments from September
    2008 through June 2009 and the funds are deposited
    in the school bank account as they are received.
    The Partners in the Arts grant requires site visits
    and extensive reporting requirements. In September,
    a group from Partners in the Arts, Mr. Cantone,
    the school’s music teachers, the parent volunteer
    team and County officials met, at the request of
    Partner in the Arts, to review the Harmony Park plans.

    This has been an exciting journey for Colonial Trail,
    and involves myriad talents and abilities
    of our entire school community.

    We welcome continued input and involvement by
    parents,teachers and students as we come into the final
    stretch of Harmony Park.

    Musical Note

    Questions? Please ask! I would like to hear from you!
    I will give you a quick response and a page on
    this site dedicated to the topic. You can share
    it with your friends and the readers will benefit too!

    Please contact me for further information or to talk to me about
    my design services.

    Nancy Dransfield

    Landesign of Virginia, Inc
    P.O. Box 15582
    Richmond, Virginia 23227
    Office: 804-264-7253
    Fax: 804-264-7253

    Solo Build It!

    Return to Home Page from Harmony Park
    Go to Next Page

    Share this page: