This story was originally written in 2012 after the creation of the Bill and Linda Knight Brass Scholarship
A young music student, whose family struggled to make ends meet, was devastated by the thought of having to give up music lessons. That student has never forgotten the generosity of his gifted teacher, Bill Knight. “Mr. Knight simply told me to sit down for my current lesson and that I should continue to come each week…Mr. Knight funded my entire music education out of the kindness of his heart.”
Another student recalls, “I excelled in music in large part because Bill believed I could.” Bill’s influence was greater than the music education he provided. “I could talk to Bill about anything…He always listened, and he always cared.”
Bill, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on Long Island, began a private music studio in Jamestown after graduating with a degree in music education from SUNY Fredonia. He later served as band director at Lincoln Junior High School from 1966 to 1972.
“Bill shepherded the brass sections…He was the energy behind the booming brass sections for which the Jamestown Public Schools, especially JHS, were known.”
Bill is an ardent and exacting teacher, one who always exhibits patience and understanding. “He is a true master – identifying and showcasing strengths, finding ways to ‘reach’ each student on a personal level, motivating students to see themselves as musicians. He is an inspiring teacher and man.”
And music has been a family affair. Although Bill’s wife, Linda, was busy with her work and raising their children (daughter Shane and sons Chris and Matt), she recognized both Bill’s gift for teaching and his musical talent. With her quiet enthusiasm and encouragement, Bill has been able to pursue his passion and, in turn, inspire generations of students.
A former student notes, “And we all realize that Bill’s wife, Linda, supported his endeavors; without her support and assistance, we would not have benefited.”
In honor of Bill and Linda Knight, two anonymous donors have established the Bill and Linda Knight Brass Scholarship Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The scholarship will provide private lesson funding for brass music students in the Jamestown Public School District who demonstrate musical ability and a commitment to music study.
According to one of the donors, “My appreciation for what Bill did for me only deepens with time. I want to simply help children like me and honor a man that changed my life for the better.” The fund accomplishes this and more.
As crisp and clear as a trumpet fanfare, the Bill and Linda Knight Scholarship Fund hits a high note that will resonate for generations to come.
Although Bill and Linda have since passed away, Linda in 2018 and Bill in 2022, they were able to see firsthand the impact this scholarship had on local music students.