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4-H Music Corps showcases talented club members

STILLWATER, Okla. – Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” If that’s the case, a group of 4-H’ers from across the state have joined forces to combine their musical talents for a job well done.
4-H Music Corps showcases talented club members

Members of the 4-H Music Corps combine their individual talents for a powerful group performance at Old Central on the Oklahoma State University campus. (Photo by Todd Johnson, Agricultural Communications Services)

The inaugural performance of the 4-H Music Corps began with 13 4-H’ers giving a perfectly harmonized rendition of their mash-up of “House of the Rising Sun” and “Amazing Grace,” and ended with a heartfelt version of “Hallelujah,” as the group performed recently at Old Central on the Oklahoma State University campus.

Mike Carter, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension 4-H educator, Pittsburg County, said the idea behind the 4-H Music Corps began with a conversation about a year ago.

“We were at the 4-H Volunteer/Parent Conference in Stillwater when Kevin Allen, state 4-H program director, asked me, ‘Mike, why don’t we play music in 4-H?’” Carter said. “So, we had a meeting. Then we had another meeting. Jeff Salle, who is in charge of the 4-H Has Talent competition at State 4-H Roundup, called the kids who participate in that. I got in touch with the kids who take part in the vocal music contest at Roundup and asked them what they thought about forming a music group. And you know what? They flipped out.”

Sallee, Extension specialist in the State 4-H Office, said reaching out to the youth who participate in other music contests was the best place to start.

“These kids are amazingly talented as single acts. But when we pulled them together for the 4-H Music Corps, they gelled,” Sallee said.

Following those initial meetings, they planned a music camp for November 2016 at Robbers Cave State Park in Wilburton and had 18 4-H’ers drive from all four corners of the state to attend. Plans then began to take shape for the inaugural performance in Stillwater.

“The kids who took part in that initial music camp late last year were so excited to just be able to play music,” Carter said. “A lot of what we do in 4-H is on a competition level for a trophy. That’s not what this is about. This is about young people coming together to create and play original music. And that’s what we did at the camp last fall at Robbers Cave and what we did in Stillwater. A lot of the songs we perform are songs they have written.”

The first official auditions for the 4-H Music Corps will take place in July during State 4-H Roundup. Everyone with any type of musical ability is encouraged to tryout. Carter said he is not looking for a certain number of singers or piano, fiddle, guitar or piano players.

“I want kids who just want to play and create music. You play the flute? Come on. You’re a drummer or play the cello? Come on,” he said. “We don’t have a set agenda for what this group really is just yet. But I do know we have talented kids in this state and I’d love for them to be part of this group. We’re writing songs, playing instruments and having a good time.”

Roger Mills County 4-H’er Callie Hammer, said she has been singing for as long as she can remember.

“Music is an escape for me,” Hammer said. “I can be in my own bubble and I also enjoy group things, too. I’ve participated in All State Choir and performed in my community. I’m excited about this because it’s a great way to start a new club in 4-H. I hope to make music my career.”

Michael Bird, a 4-H’er from McClain County, said becoming part of the 4-H Music Corps was appealing and gives him an opportunity to be with like-minded people.

“I’m excited to be part of this group and give it a shot,” Bird said. “I’ve been in 4-H Has Talent, but this is different. I don’t plan on music as a career, but this is definitely something I want to be part of.”

In addition to the performance at Old Central, the group also has performed for the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation board and at the Southeast District Oklahoma Home and Community Education meeting. The group is planning a song writing symposium early this summer.

“Through this group, I want to show the kids there are so many things to do with music besides compete. We aren’t trying to take away the praise of winning. Instead, we want to give our music to other people,” Carter said. “Music is something you can share with others and have fun. When we think about 4-H, we don’t typically think about music. While music is a niche, it’s also a common thread. Music has a place in everyone’s life and the 4-H Music Corps is a place where these kids can express themselves and have fun.”

In addition to Hammer and Bird, other 4-H Music Corps participants include Brock Ardese, Rachel Egglesten, Elizabeth Robbins and Rhyanne Soliday, Pittsburg County; Allie Baker, Osage County; Brooke Bollinger, McClain County; Shalyn Bowles, Cotton County; Treasure Gibbs and Trent Gibbs, both of Stephens County; Tyler Satterfield, Haskell County; and Laura Rose, Pontotoc County. 4-H alumni Josh Sexton and Zana Johnson, Haskell County, also help with the group.

For more information about 4-H Music Corps auditions, or to inquire about the group performing at an event, contact Carter at 918-423-4120 or Sallee at 405-744-8885.


Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078