We granted $30,000 over three years to West Michigan Symphony so that the Link Up Beginner Music Education Program can return to three concerts for the first time since 2019. Grants that support education are one of our six priorities, as the youth of Northwest Ottawa County are our future and it’s important to serve all students of the community. 

Beginning its 20th season, this free beginner music education program—a collaboration with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute—pairs the Orchestra with local community schools in six West Michigan counties. Over 65,000 area students have participated in Link Up since 2004. Students in grades 3-5 learn to read and play music on the recorder and gain an understanding of orchestral repertoire. 

“Children learn in different ways and for many, music and the arts are the key that unlocks the door to creativity, motivation, discipline and problem solving,” said West Michigan Symphony CEO Andy Buelow. “Link Up provides educators with a ready-made platform straight from Carnegie Hall for beginner music education. The Foundation’s strong support has been a catalyst for Link Up’s establishment throughout the regional school system over the past two decades, and especially for rebuilding since the pandemic.” 

They benefit from regular contact with Music Mentors: WMS musicians who visit classrooms to work with students and prepare them for attending the symphony and performing on their recorders. The program culminates with an interactive concert at the Frauenthal Center during which the students perform on recorders along with the Symphony. More than 50 elementary schools partner with WMS to bring this program to their schools each year.