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Link Up

Activities for Families

Link Up introduces students in grades 3–5 to the orchestra through some of the most famous pieces of orchestral music, as well as new masterworks commissioned by Carnegie Hall. The free activities on this page invite children to explore the components of the orchestra; play, sing, or dance along with videos and interactive sheet music; and even write their own song!

In the school-based Link Up program, which is implemented by more than 120 partner orchestras in communities around the world, a year of musical learning culminates in a live interactive concert experience during which students sing and play the recorder from their seats along with the orchestra. You and the children in your care can engage in some of our favorite activities from the Link Up curriculum—which are sure to spark musical learning in young musicians throughout the elementary school years—from the comfort of your home.

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Discover the Orchestra

Get to know the instrument families of the orchestra through this video that features composer and teaching artist Thomas Cabaniss. Then dive into activities where you listen to and identify the instruments of the orchestra using the printable Instrument Exploration Activities included below the video.

Families of the Orchestra

Instrument Exploration Activities

Write down what each instrument of the orchestra sounds like to you using Instrument Family Portraits (PDF) and tracks 27–30 in the Instrument Exploration Playlist below. Learn to recognize each instrument of the orchestra using Instrument Identification (Visual) (PDF), then explore the sound each instrument of the orchestra makes using Instrument Identification (Audio) (PDF) and tracks 31–38 in the Instrument Exploration Playlist below.

Build your own orchestra using My Own Orchestra (PDF).

Instrument Exploration Playlist

An illustration of personified orchestra instruments

Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

Explore this interactive online game that dives deep into the components of the orchestra through Benjamin Britten’s iconic piece for young audiences. (This game is currently in open beta testing.)

Make Music

Warm up your vocal cords or learn the basics of playing the recorder (if you have one with you). Sing or play along to pieces from the Link Up: The Orchestra Swings repertoire, then write your own blues song with the help of composer Courtney Bryan!

Sing or Play Along

Sing or play along with the interactive sheet music below! Basic and advanced parts are available for recorders and string instruments. Click the gear icon in the Soundslice player to toggle these parts on and off. You can also zoom in or out, adjust the playback speed, and change between different audio recordings! Visit Soundslice for additional tips on how to use this interactive sheet music.

Duke’s Place

Duke Ellington, Ruth Roberts, Bill Katz, Robert Thiele

I Got Rhythm

George and Ira Gershwin

When the Saints Go Marching In


Write Your Own Blues Song

Blues are a way of expressing a particular feeling through music. Blues lyrics usually tell a story about everyday life, often presenting a difficulty or problem, and then resolving or commenting on it. Each of the three sections of the 12-bar blues form features a vocal phrase. In the first section, the problem is stated. In the second section, the phrase is repeated. In the third section, the phrase is a response or resolution and rhymes with the first two sections.

First, write your own blues lyrics using My Blues Lyrics (PDF).

You can write your blues about any topic! It can be something hard in your day or something that has been bothering you. Come up with two phrases: one that describes your topic (phrase A) and another that comments on it or resolves it (phrase B). Make sure that your two phrases rhyme. For example:
  • Phrase A: I’ve got so much homework, I’ve got no time to play.
  • Repeat phrase A: I’ve got so much homework, I’ve got no time to play.
  • Phrase B: Now that it’s the weekend, I can play all day.

Next, use this video from composer Courtney Bryan to help you put your lyrics to music. Then you’re ready to sing the blues!

Do Your Own Blues Project: Invitation from Courtney Bryan and 12-Bar Blues Demonstration

Move and Dance

Dance, move, and perform along with the instructional videos below.

“Cidade Maravilhosa” Dance Instruction
Samba dance to “Cidade Maravilhosa” by André Filho.

Take a Listening Adventure

Link Up features many beloved classics and new masterworks of orchestral music. Use the Listening Adventures (PDF) and Listening Adventures Playlist to guide you as you listen to selections from the Link Up repertoire, and activate some creative expression of your own.

Listening Adventures Playlist

Meet the Composers

Meet some of the famous composers featured in the Link Up repertoire in these printable PDFs. For added fun, cut out the illustration of your favorite composer, and share photos of where they end up in your home or neighborhood!

Explore Carnegie Hall

Get to know one of most important and historic concert halls in the world.

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Fund II Foundation

Lead support for Link Up is provided by Fund II Foundation.

macy's logo, a red star with macy's in black text

Additional funding for Link Up is provided by Linda and Earle S. Altman, The Barker Welfare Foundation, JJR Foundation, Macy's, and Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation.

Link Up in New York City schools is made possible, in part, by an endowment gift from The Irene Diamond Fund.

The Weill Music Institute's programs are made available to a nationwide audience, in part, by an endowment grant from the Citi Foundation.

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