Colonial Trail’s Outdoor Musical Classroom is
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.
- 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).
Want to see and hear these incredible instruments at
Harmony Park: A Closer Look Behind
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
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
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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
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.
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!
for further information or to talk to me about
my design services.
Landesign of Virginia, Inc
P.O. Box 15582
Richmond, Virginia 23227
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