STILLWATER – While activity in the oldest building on campus is typically limited to things associated with Oklahoma State University’s Honors College, Old Central recently was full of talented musicians from all around the state.

Thirteen members of 4-H Music Corps raised the roof with their original tunes and wide variety of music instruments as they entertained the crowd in the same building where the group made their debut last year.

Featuring a keyboard, acoustic guitar, tambourine, ukulele, bass guitar, violin, mandolin, shakers and the cajon, the group’s performance showcased two days’ worth of intense music creation, coupled with a lot of fun at the music retreat at OSU.

Under the direction of Mike Carter, OSU Cooperative Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development in Pittsburg County, 4-H Music Corps is ever-changing.

“We’ve been at this for about 18 months as a group, and we’re changing. Fear is being replaced with creative courage and youth are learning what it means to really have somebody’s back,” Carter said. “They proved that with this recent Old Central performance. Our members are more relaxed because there’s no competition or score. Parents are positive about our efforts because of the encouragement of creativity, but they’re also enjoying the absence of competition. We’ve still got a way to go in changing the culture of music in 4-H, but we’re well on our way.”

Chandler Patterson, a member of the Tuttle 4-H Club in Grady County, is new to the group.

“I decided to join the Music Corps because I like music, and this will help me with my performances,” said Patterson, who plays the snare drum and cahon and performs in Share-the-Fun and at church. “I also like the friendships I’m making through this group.”

Trent Gibbs has been a member of the group since its inception. He said he is enjoying the new faces that are now part of the group.

“We’ve had some members graduate and leave, so it’s cool to see the younger kids coming in and finding their place in the group,” said Trent, an active 4-H’er in Stephens County. “They’re helping us evolve our sound and taking ownership of their music. They’re already leaving their musical thumbprint.”

Elizabeth Chambers and Treasure Gibbs teamed up to perform an original song, “Say Hello.” Chambers said she had written the chorus and first verse, but turned to Gibbs to help with the rest of the song.

“When writing a song, you have to come up with the inspiration. Just get one line and add on to it,” said Chambers, a 4-H’er in Osage County who is inspired by the music of Patsy Cline. “This song was inspired by my Grandpa Mike.”

Treasure said she enjoys the collaboration amongst the members of 4-H Music Corps.

“We all have great ideas and it’s really fun to help someone make their song come to life,” she said.

Carter said while the goals of 4-H Music Corps are the same, this year’s music retreat took a different angle.

“This year we wanted to make the retreat more educational. We discussed riders, which are a type of contract for venues that want us to come perform,” he said. “We began to write a rough draft of a Music Corps rider we can use in the future.”

In addition, returning youth gave informal reports on what they had learned traveling with Music Corps in the last year and what performing on stage had taught them. The group also made a visit to Daddy-O’s music store to thank them for their donation of guitars, a banjo, a ukulele and shakers. These instruments have been distributed to 4-H’ers in five counties who have shown a real interest in learning new instruments.

“The Oklahoma 4-H Program continues to provide its members with hands-on learning experiences that will help develop life skills, and 4-H Music Corps is no different,” Carter said. “We always invite new singers and musicians as we find them to expose them to a different option to learn more about music. What has happened is youth are finding new ways to express themselves while providing leadership and building trust in themselves and each other.”

Washington County 4-H’er Delaynne France was one of the performers present. France is a 8th grader and Central Middle School in Bartlesville and a member of the Dewey 4-H Club. She was introduced to the 4-H Music Corps while attending the State 4-H Roundup Leadership Conference last July.

For more information about 4-H Programs and Enrollment, contact Jenifer Harbour with the Washington County Extension Office at 918-534-2216.

— Trisha Gedon, OSU Agriculture Communications Services