Millers Music – The success of the Harmonica Playathon


Alice here, with a story about how a retailer’s pro-active collaboration with the local community lead to an event which has benefitted them hugely…

Music for All’s flagship event, Learn to Play Day, took place this year on the 17th and 18th of March. 100 venues from around the UK held events that gave the public the opportunity to get a free taster lesson on a musical instrument.

Millers Music in Cambridge have a focus on music education, and aim to make music accessible to all. To celebrate the national Learn to Play Day, they decided to put on a Harmonica Playathon and organise what was probably the biggest music lesson in the UK! It saw almost 300 people learn to play a new musical instrument for free.

The event took place at Miller’ local venue – The Cambridge Corn Exchange. The lesson was led by Steve Lockwood, who is a friend of the shop and lives nearby. Steve has written harmonica parts for a Tom Jones tour and recorded with the Royal Philharmonic. Everyone that attended received a free harmonica at the door.

Watch the video here:

Now, not only did this event inspire hundreds of potential new musicians, but the PR and press coverage massively benefited Millers directly…

The Harmonica Playathon generated local and regional coverage including BBC Look East, ITV Anglia and BBC Radio.

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner attended which lead him to mention Miller’s work with music education in the House of Commons – see here – very impressive!

Millers also collaborated with their local radio station to create a jingle to promote the Playathon which was played 100 times in the lead up to the event.

I spoke to Adele Scrivener, Marketing Manager at Millers Music. She explained that holding a Charity-endorsed event was a unique opportunity to engage the local community and new customers.

‘The Harmonica Playathon generated Millers local and regional press coverage including the BBC (TV and Radio) and ITV (TV and Online) which rivalled our 21 Piano initiative last year.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the event was an increase in customer engagement in-store and our on social media channels.

We announced on the day smaller workshops in-store and we have been inundated with requests for us to do more events.

We have sold plenty of instruments and sheet music off the back of the event.

It was one of the most successful PR campaigns Millers have ever put together.’

No brainer! The dates for Learn to Play Day 2019 will be announced soon.