The National Music Center

Listening, learning and living in the digital age.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to scratch like the world’s best DJs or pound your stress away on a West African drum? At the National Music Center in Washington D.C., you can.

The idea for the Center was born years ago when Nancy Sinatra couldn’t find a national music museum to house Frank-related artifacts. A large number of people supported the concept, and their efforts finally resulted in the opening of the National Music Center in March 2006.

Because the Center is temporarily housed in the Historic Carnegie Library building for the next two years, it does not yet showcase any physical exhibits—not even Frank’s memorabilia; however, the Center offers an eclectic array of classes and programs for people of all ages. For example, the Center’s programming division—known as “the gig”—hosts classes such as Jazz Master; Hip-Hop Dance; DJ 101: You Be the DJ; and Eat to the Beat: Stress-Free Fridays (for working people who want to relax by drumming during their lunch hour).

If you don’t know how to play an instrument, the Center holds classes using special guitars and keyboards that have strings and keys that light up to indicate the notes you should play. According to Cassidy Bernhard, the Center’s director of marketing, these lessons invite all people to enjoy the recreational aspect of creating music.

The Center also holds community festivals, such as a go-go music celebration this past June, and rents out instrument-stocked rehearsal rooms for bands that want to rock out for a couple of hours.

The Center has two particularly pressing goals, Bernhard explains. First, the organization wants to encourage D.C. schools to integrate music education across the curriculum. The Center’s Music in Education (MIE) initiative and its Roots of Rhythm classes, for example, provide D.C. schoolteachers the opportunity to learn how to teach math through song or geography through percussive rhythms. Second, the Center plans to form an all-city marching band, which the district currently lacks.

“There are so many talented musicians in this area, and we want to see them represented at events like the Macy’s Day Parade,” Bernhard says. All high school students in D.C. are encouraged to audition at the Center.

If you are interested in the marching band, the National Music Center or the programs available through “the gig,” you can find more information online at or at the Center’s MySpace,

“We want to hear and respond to the musical needs of the community, so that everyone can have access to music,” Bernhard says. “Contact us!”

National Music Center
Historic Carnegie Library
801 K Street, NW
Washington, DC  20001
(202) 383-1825

About author

Janel Healy

Janel Healy currently works as a professional vocalist for Holland America Line. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2008 with a degree in communication and a minor in American studies. While at USC, she sang alto in her a cappella group, the SoCal VoCals, which won first place in the 2008 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. She played trumpet and piano in junior high.