At Link Up, Kids Join In

In the past three years since its inception, Link Up: Seattle Symphony, a music curriculum and participatory concert experience, has grown to serve over 10,000 students in grades 3–5 annually with over 116 Puget Sound schools registered to participate in this year’s concerts in May.

Link Up invites students to learn about orchestral repertoire throughout the school year with hands-on music curriculum that focuses on specific musical concepts including rhythm, melody, tempo, orchestration and composition. Curriculum materials developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute are provided to all Link Up schools, and recorders donated by Music4Life are provided to schools participating in a five- or 10-week residency with symphony teaching artists. Link Up brings active music-making into the classroom, enabling students to take part in creative work performing repertoire on recorder, voice and body percussion and even composing their own pieces inspired by the orchestral music they have studied. All of this culminates in a live performance at Benaroya Hall where students have the opportunity to play- and sing-along with the Seattle Symphony from their seats. This performance is oftentimes the students’ first concert-going experience as well as their concert performance debut.

Seattle Symphony has an ongoing commitment to make arts education accessible to communities that might not have the capability to provide it otherwise. 60% of the schools involved in Link Up this year are able to do so because of support from the Symphony. This reaches a range of schools and is enabling a variety of districts to take part, from six schools in Marysville to 10 out of the 20 Seattle Public Schools participating. Of the over 116 schools involved, 70 have 60–100% of students on the free or reduced school lunch program.

There is no denying the lasting impact on the lives of the students who partake in programs such as Link Up. Studies have shown that students who are involved in arts education fare better academically than those who aren’t, including higher test scores and grades, lower dropout rates and higher likelihood to attend college. Ongoing participation in the arts promotes creativity, innovation, discipline and teamwork, building a toolbox of skills that prepare students to face the challenges of living and working in the ever-changing modern world.

Link Up also acts as a pipeline for students to become interested in taking instrumental classes or lessons provided by organizations such as Seattle Music Partners, who offers free music lessons after school to students who couldn’t otherwise afford it. Additionally, most schools that have instrumental education begin it in 5th grade, so programs like Link Up and Seattle Music Partners prepare students to enter into these programs and set them up for success.

This year’s Link Up concerts take place on May 12–14, 2015, at Benaroya Hall. Since the culminating Link Up concerts are only open to school groups, Seattle Symphony also offers a Link Up Family Concert on May 9, where families can make music together along with the Seattle Symphony from their seats. For more information about Link Up, visit

By Heidi Staub

Posted on April 29, 2015