CAS News

McKnight Center bringing music to elementary students

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts is collaborating with Carnegie Hall, the world-renowned musical institution, to engage Stillwater students with orchestral repertoire through hands-on music curriculum.

Throughout the school year, Stillwater Public School students have had the opportunity to learn how to sing and play a musical instrument in their classrooms through Link Up: The Orchestra Sings, a Carnegie Hall program. Their learning will culminate in two concerts with the Enid Symphony Orchestra at The McKnight Center. They will be March 25 after originally being postponed on Feb. 5 due to inclement weather.

For more than 30 years, Link Up has paired orchestras with students in grades 3–5 at schools in their local communities to explore orchestral repertoire and fundamental musical skills, including creative work and composition, through a hands-on music curriculum. Link Up addresses the urgent need for music instruction and resources by providing a free, high quality, year-long curriculum that teachers can implement, along with classroom materials, online video and audio resources, and the professional development and support necessary to make the program an engaging experience for students. 

“Music can connect what children hear to how they feel and how they see the world and themselves,” said Sarah Johnson, 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.”

Exchange Bank donated over 1,000 recorders to students to learn the musical curriculum. The experience will culminate in an exciting concert that allows third-, fourth- and fifth graders to play recorders and sing alongside the professional musicians of the Enid Symphony Orchestra. Stillwater third-graders will also participate in the concert by singing along. Overall, 1,455 students will have participated in the Link Up program during its first year of implementation. The partnership will continue in future years, rotating through four different musical curriculums.

“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.

The concert will take place in The McKnight Center, providing local students with another unique learning experience—performing in the brand-new, state-of-the-art performance hall.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with well-revered institutions such as Carnegie Hall and the Enid Symphony Orchestra,” Marilynn and Carl Thoma 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.”