Anne McKnight has spent the last 77 years filling the world with music. She began her musical career in the second grade and retired with her final recital on May 26.
McKnight was born in 1928 as the youngest of seven children. She was born and raised in Yadkin County in the Forbush community.
“I was very young when I started singing solos,” McKnight said. “At Forbush Elementary School I had many occasions to sing.”
McKnight said that she was also an active performer in her church, Forbush Baptist.
When McKnight entered the second grade she started her training on the piano.
“A music teacher came to the school and the piano was in a tiny room called the library,” McKnight said. “I was not fortunate enough to have a teacher in the school every year, but I kept practicing.”
McKnight said that she continued to train herself using hymnals from church and playing pieces in old books that belonged to her cousins.
McKnight continued practicing and training, and when she entered high school she got the opportunity to work with the woman who would become her inspiration.
“When I was a senior in high school I was fortunate to have Mrs. Carmen Richardson who had a music degree from Woman’s College (of the University of North Carolina), which is UNC-Greensboro now,” McKnight said. “She was such an inspiration and encouraged me to major in piano.”
McKnight followed through with her mentor’s suggestion and went to Mars Hill College, which was a junior college at the time. Then she transferred to UNC-Greensboro and graduated with degrees in piano performance and music education.
“My first job was in Yadkinville High School, and I taught piano and directed the glee club,” McKnight said. “I had a large group of piano students and I was teaching all day and even some after school hours.”
McKnight continued teaching for piano for 62 years and says that she has been blessed with wonderful students who have gone on to continue careers in music.
“My students were enthusiastic and anxious to learn,” McKnight said. “I have taught many, many students, and it is exciting to hear of their involvement in some phase of music.”
McKnight reminisces with a smile on the jobs her students have gone on to. She says that some have gone on to become pre-school and kindergarten teachers, pianists, organists and soloists. She said several of her students have pursued degrees in music from various colleges and universities.
McKnight was also very involved in her church while maintaining her role as teacher, wife and mother. After she married her husband, Johnny, McKnight said the couple moved to Yadkinville and became members of Yadkinville First Baptist Church.
McKnight became the music director and directed the adult choir for 40 years.
“During those years I had children’s choir and at one time I had four hand bell choirs – senior citizens, two adult classes and a youth choir,” McKnight said. “It was a very rewarding experience being involved in church music.”
All during this time McKnight taught piano lessons from her home. She finished teaching her last students and wrapped up their lessons with a recital at Yadkinville First Baptist on May 26.
McKnight pointed out that her first performance as a child was at her church and her final recital was also at her church.
“My last class of piano students were presented in a recital,” McKnight said. “I was so proud of them. There were two girls and eight boys.”
McKnight said she had one very special performer at her final recital.
“One of my first student recitals at Yadkinville School in 1951 also performed in my last student recital on May 26,” McKnight said.
That student was Kaye Brandon who had studied with McKnight in her early teaching years and picked up the piano once more in the last couple of years.
McKnight said that she has had a very fulfilling and happy life and she hopes to continue staying busy now that she is officially retired.
“I stay busy and I try to keep my practice up,” McKnight said. “I want to try to go to the nursing homes and rest homes and play some if they would like for me to.”