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The Buffalo, Minnesota Rotary Music Trail winds along a lake adjacent to the downtown area taking people from one percussive instrument to another.

arrow From the New Years 2015 issue of American Trails Magazine


Musical trail provides outdoor instruments

By Christy Cooke, Freenotes Harmony Park


photo of lines drawn on paved trail


Benefitting the local community of Buffalo, Minnesota, the Buffalo Rotary Music Trail winds along a lake adjacent to the downtown area taking people from one percussive instrument to another. These beautiful sounding musical instruments are like none other. They are permanently installed outdoors, never require tuning and they insure a players success from the very first note regardless of musical training. Sound impossible but it’s true.

“Adding a musical element to the trail engages people in a unique way making them happy by connecting them with themselves and others in nature,” said Camille Calderaro of Fireflies Play Environments, the company responsible for the inclusion of the musical instruments in the trail project.

photo of big rocks along river's edge


“The whole of its success centers on connection” said Camille. This park trail now connects the downtown area to the lake. It brought the community together in a hugely successful fundraising effort both cooperative and philanthropic and it continues to bring people together in spontaneous creative play.

It all came about from the Buffalo Rotary Club wanting to do something to better the community. The lakeside became a great free space that was underused. According to the President of the Buffalo Rotary, Warren Stoltman, “The biggest challenge was to raise the funds necessary to make it real.” Starting with a goal of nine instruments and a $35,000 budget, the club exceeded its target in half a year’s time. Now eleven instruments are along Buffalo Lake in Sturges Park.

The Music Trail became a community wide effort with contributions from the local government including the City donating the installation of the instruments and approval by the Parks and Recreation Board for the use of Sturges Park along with monetary donations from private citizens. What put the Buffalo Rotary over the top was a substantial contribution from the Minnesota Legacy Fund.

photo of people on trail with large chimes and marimba



A neat thing about the music tail is that you can see the instruments from one place to the next but you can also hear them being played so you know where to go by following the sound, “Warren said. The instruments are created by Richard Cooke, Grammy award winning musician and founder of Freenotes Harmony Park.

“Creating beautiful music is not reserved for highly trained musicians – it is available to everyone,” Richard said.

“The joy of creating music is so strong that I believe if most people could have that ability themselves their lives and society itself could be changed for the better. So I designed Freenotes to make it simple and accessible.”


Learn more at

photo of people on trail with large chimes and marimba


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