CHOCTAW — For Bonnie Sneed, the effects of music education last long past the time a song's final note fades.
That's why, at the start of her second year as the director of choirs at Choctaw High School, Sneed is thinking up unusual ways to teach her students.
Like calling on the community to donate their extra electric keyboards so her students can practice reading music and play as well as sing.
“My priority is to give them a great musical experience,” Sneed said. “This is part of putting that together.”
Being musically literate is important, she said. “We want to keep growing this literary artistry.”
And while singing and choir is an artistic endeavor, Sneed said she's learned in her more than 20 years of teaching — at the college and the high school level — that music education helps make students successful in life.
“You're reading the music, you're thinking about the words and the poetry behind the words, and you're also trying to connect with your audience all simultaneous to each other,” she said.
This teaches students how to think and listen, to work together and to multitask, skills employers in any field would look for in an employee, she said.
Having her students perform with professionals also inspires and encourages the amateurs.
For this reason, Sneed applied for and recently was awarded a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council to perform Antonio Vivaldi's well-known Baroque piece “Gloria,” with professional violin, viola, cello, trumpet, oboe and harpsichord players to accompany the choir.
All of the choir students at the high school will sing during the 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 performance in the Performing Arts Center at Choctaw High School.
Choctaw-Nicoma Park Schools Superintendent Jim McCharen said there is a strong correlation between the fine arts and students who are critical thinkers.
“Music is vitally important for a lot of our students,” he said. “It's their passion and their artistic outlet.”
McCharen said vocal music programs start in the elementary schools in the district and go through high school. He said Sneed is working on a districtwide program for all of the schools to further music education in the schools.
“It's not just vocal music. It's way more in-depth than that,” he said.
Keyboards donated to the Choctaw High School choir program should have 44 keys and be in usable, working condition. For more information about the program or how to donate, email bsneed@