Fourth-graders play with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Some fourth-graders from all around the Sioux Falls School District gathered at the Washington Pavillion for a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Every year, Carnegie Hall puts on a program called “Link Up.” It gives young fourth-graders a chance to learn what it’s like to be a part of their local orchestra.

With the lights dimmed, and recorders in hand, the kids got a chance to be a part of the band.

“This is a national program. Link Up is from Carnegie Hall, so we work pretty close with Carnegie Hall, we have contacts over there in the education department that help put this all together and they distribute nationally,” Community Education Coordinator for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra Kristy Kayser said.

“It goes all around the country, and it brings together you people so they can play and sing with an orchestra. So, rather than just be a member of the audience they’re actually part of the orchestra,” Conductor for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra Thomas Fortner said.

Through music, teachers and students unite over their shared love of the art.

“My kids love it. They’re excited about practicing; they come in at lunch, recess, they want to play more challenging songs and they just have a really good time with it,” fourth-grade teacher Melanie Sander said

And always take away something new from each melody.

“How they changed the song and added new notes and just added the different bits of… they keep the song there, but they add more on,” fourth-grader Elena Schellpfeffer said

“It teaches them patience and discipline and it gives them a way to express themselves in a way that they otherwise might not be able to do,” Kayser said.

“Music also teaches us, most importantly, to listen. When you’re playing in an ensemble, such as when the kids are playing the recorders with the orchestra, they have to listen as they’re playing and I think that’s a really great life lesson,” Fortner said.

It’s an experience that’s sure to have them going out on a high note.

“It’s exhilarating. There’s nothing like thousands of young people, and the energy in the room it’s – the orchestra has a lot of fun and it’s a really great experience,” Fortner said.

If you’d like to learn more about the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and Link up, click here.

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