The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 1, 2013

Tri-State: Music is important

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Music is important, said Mike Knedler, one of the judges for the 81st Tri-State Music Festival.

Knedler is dean of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and a former band director. He was judging woodwind solos and ensembles Wednesday.

“Music conveys emotion as a human experience in ways you can’t do in any other medium,” Knedler said. “Kids love the opportunity to receive feedback on their performances. “

The more the kids perform in front of others, the more confidence they will have to do it again, he said. In addition, Tri-State is a special activity that allows students to spend time with their friends doing something in common. It’s all about the music, he said.

During the 1980s, many schools began to cut back their music and arts programs. That does not happen as frequently now, but Knedler said the threat always is there that music and the arts will be the first programs cut if funding is short.

“The arts are a unique form of human expression,” he said. “It appeals to the expressive side of the brain.”

Knedler said the quality of students attending Tri-State is pretty consistent. Every year, he hears some exceptional musicians and others who, while not exceptional, still receive benefits from music programs and from attending Tri-State.

“It’s pretty consistent. Something kids are doing every day. They are being around kids from other places and it’s a treat to go to a big town and get out of school for a day or two,” Knedler said.

Another important thing about Tri-State is the support the music festival receives from the community, he said. Tri-State historically has had a good supply from community volunteers. It is important to remember, Knedler said, that not all Tri-State participants will be performers. Those who are not performers will be arts consumers.

“It’s as important to be consumers as it is artists,” he said.

Knedler was band director at NWOSU for 22 years, and taught high school band before that, bringing his students to Tri-State every year. As a student at Ponca City, he attended the festival. He has 30 years of experience at Tri-State, even volunteering to work at the music festival while a student at Phillips University. He also is on the Tri-State board.

Tri-State started in 1932 when Russell Wiley founded Phillips Band Day. In 1933, it became Tri-State Band Festival and later was expanded to include all music groups.

Tri-State will conclude with the Million Dollar Parade featuring 21 bands at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the Grand Concert at 3 p.m. at Enid High School auditorium.