Up the hill from the Pacific and the Carlsbad Flower Fields and to the side of Lego Land there is a charming museum all about music–things to play it with and its American history from 1900 to present. It is a small space tucked into the larger business building of the National Association of Music Merchants.
The museum space is divided into five galleries arranged chronologically. Each combines written, audio, and displays of musical instruments and music producers. Lots of buttons to push to hear history and samples of music. Lots to read about the displays. A some very nice “play me” instruments that you can strum or drum and listen to yourself through headphones. Gallery 1 shares with us the early piano and organ music of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s highlighting John Philip Sousa and Tin Pan Alley. The history of music marketing and manufacturing is detailed more on the web site so you don’t need to take notes as you go from gallery to gallery. It’s a wonderful web site.
Gallery 2 takes us into the “Roaring Twenties”, jazz, player pianos, and phonographs. Gallery 3 moves to the mid-thirties and the forties; Gallery 4 into the 1950’s, Elvis, and skyrocketing guitar sales. Gallery 5 brings us into the 1980’s and the different Rock styles. The audios and displays really highlight each time period. The instruments are carefully preserved in cases, from violins to accordions to a valve trombone. If you know the instruments you can spend a lot of time finding the one you used to play.
You absolutely have to put on the head phones and strum or tap on the beautiful strings and drums as they come along with the sections. I tried the harp and the steel drums but I bet the guitars get a lot of use.