The Gretsch family have been leaders in American musical instrument making since 1883. Now they’ve also become leaders in innovative music education with the underwriting of the Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family Gallery at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Gallery was created through a generous donation by company president Fred Gretsch and his wife Dinah, who is the historic guitar-and-drum builder’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, through the Gretsch Foundation, which funds a plurality of concerts and music education initiatives. The Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family Gallery provides a unique, close-up look at the process of creating music that’s geared to youthful learners, using artifacts from the Museum’s collection and such learning tools as a giant guitar, touchscreens and a do-it-yourself studio were visitors can record and mix tracks.
“The museum needed a new and exciting interactive gallery that connects visitors with the creative process – from recording to packaging music,” says the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s vice president of museum services Carolyn Tate. “The Dinah and Fred Gretsch Gallery is that space, bringing to life the Gretsch’s long-time commitment to music education for the benefit of our over 900,000 annual visitors.”
The seed for the Gallery, which is located in the Museum’s Taylor Swift Education Center, was planted when the Gretsch family became involved in the curation of the Museum’s “Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player” exhibit in 2011. But its conception and construction required two years and input from many sources. It was determined that interactive experiences, contemporary stories and the ability to make things should be at the core of the Gallery, which includes multiple genres.
“An effort was made to back as much of the museum’s collection as possible into the concepts that came together,” says Tate. “An effort was also made to illustrate that there are many ways to be creative within music, beyond being an artist.”
The Gallery’s activities and exhibits are tied together by nine stations with touchscreens where visitors can learn about songwriting, music business jobs, awards, design, costumes, recording, cross-genre collaborations and more. Completing each station’s activities earns a badge. After collecting all nine badges visitors are “Certified Country” — a designation 58,000 have earned since the exhibit opened in April 2014.
The Gretsch Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gretsch Family, has long been involved in music education through its sponsorship of concerts, festivals, clinics, workshops and direct assistance to schools. Recently the Foundation underwrote the purchase and installation of a new, state-of-the-art sound system in the auditorium of the historic 108-year-old Brunson Elementary School in Brunson, South Carolina, not far from Gretsch’s headquarters just outside of Savannah, Georgia.
Students and youth groups interested in visiting the Dinah and Fred Gretsch Gallery and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum can call 800-852-6437 for information and reservations.