By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Elementary school students have practiced since September for a special musical concert.
On Friday, they performed with the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra at Tupelo Middle School’s Civic Auditorium.
Second- and fifth-graders from the Tupelo, Lee County, Pontotoc City and Pontotoc County school districts, as well as those from Tupelo Christian Preparatory School and home-schooled students, participated in the event through Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program.
Second-graders sang along at various points, while fifth-graders played recorders, following the instructions projected onto a screen near the orchestra. Sixth- to 12th-grade strings players from the Tupelo Public School District also performed.
“They are active participants in the performance, and it stays with them,” said Steven Byess, conductor of the NMSO. “It plants a seed about artistic collaboration, creativity, problem-solving. It is a macro approach to education, and music is at the center of it.”
Carnegie Hall provides a curriculum that teachers use throughout the year, as well as workbooks for each student.
“The beauty of this program is it gives purpose and meaning because children know they will be coming to this concert,” said Joyner Elementary music teacher Lynne Mize, who coordinated the Link Up program as the NMSO’s vice president of education outreach.
Titled “The Orchestra Moves,” Friday’s program explored movement within music through melody, rhythm and harmony, as well as how music moves those who experience it.
“I liked when they did the Beethoven how it was fast and really deep,” said Lawhon Elementary fifth-grader Gracie Caldwell, 11.
Fellow Lawhon fifth-grader Isabella Byles, 11, said she enjoyed playing along with her recorder to “The Blue Danube.”
“I have never been to see an orchestra before, and the first one was a really good one,” she said.