McKnight Center and Link Up work together to teach students music

PHOTO: Ross McKnight (copy)

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts has partnered with Stillwater Public Schools and Link Up: The Orchestra Sings to bring music education to students in Oklahoma

Stillwater’s own McKnight Center for the Performing Arts aims to create a life-long love of music in children through hands-on learning.

Stillwater Public Schools and Link Up: The Orchestra Sings, a program sponsored by Carnegie Hall, worked together to bring the Link Up curriculum to students. Link Up provides partner schools with a free, year-long curriculum that helps introduce students to the joys of music. The program currently teaches half a million students across the world about playing instruments and singing.

“Music can connect what children hear to how they feel and how they see the world and themselves,” said Sarah Johnson, the chief education officer and director of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. “Our work in Oklahoma would not be possible without the help of incredible educators and partners inside and outside the classroom.”

Students in third, fourth and fifth grades learned how to play recorders and will participate in a concert with the Enid Symphony Orchestra. This concert will take place at the McKnight Center, giving students the opportunity to perform in a state-of-the-art venue. Exchange Bank donated over 1,000 recorders for students to use during the curriculum.

The curriculum provides classroom materials and online resources for teachers to use. Link Up also provides support to help students have the best possible experience.

“We hope to enrich the quality of life in students through classical symphonic music and to provide them with a front seat to musical learning and exploration,” said Douglas Newell, music director and maestro of the Enid Symphony Orchestra.

In the program’s first year, 1,455 Stillwater students were able to participate. The program rotates through four different curriculums that focus on different skills and instruments. This will allow students to learn new instruments in the years to come.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with well-revered institutions such as Carnegie Hall and the Enid Symphony Orchestra,” Executive Director Mark Blakeman said. “These incredible partnerships provide impactful learning opportunities for young students to foster their talents and cultivate their love for music. This unifying experience offers an avenue for Oklahoma students to learn how to sing, listen and play great music in a state-of-the-art performance hall.”