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Jeff Williams, a music teacher at Caverna, left, instructs students during an after-school music camp earlier this year in Caverna’s band room. Caverna Middle School will now be offering band to students, and the program is currently seeking musical instrument donations from community members.

HORSE CAVE — For the first time in eight years, students at Caverna Middle School will be able to learn how to play a musical instrument in the school’s new band class.

“It’s really exciting because you can’t really build a high school program without a feeder,” said Jeff Williams, the band director at Caverna High School who will also instruct the middle school class. “It’s pretty exciting to work for an administration who is supportive of that and wants to provide those opportunities for our kids.”

Williams said they had several CMS students who wanted to sign up for the class, “and we will do some recruiting after school starts.” He said these students won’t be marching for the first few years of the program.

“There’s so many fundamental playing skills they have to develop,” Williams said, adding that he is hoping the CMS band, which will be a mixture of grades 6-8, could perform at a couple of basketball games.

“It just kind of depends on developmentally where they are,” he said. “It’ll be brand new for them. There’s a big difference between a sixth-grader and an eighth-grader, so developmentally, it just depends on where they are.”

The band instructor said he is thrilled “that the kids here are going to have this opportunity.”

“I think having a band should be one of highlights of a school,” Williams said. “I think it’s one of the coolest things kids can be a part of, so the fact that they now have this opportunity again is really, really exciting.

“Having a middle school band is an important piece to our school’s success.”

Looking at the long-term benefits of a middle school program, “in three to five years, these kids that are starting in middle school will then be at the high school,” he said. “So in a few years, the high school band will be comparable maybe to some of the other schools around, and they’ll get to do some things that they hadn’t had the opportunity to do for awhile.”

Learning and playing a musical instrument can have a positive effect on all aspects of a student’s development, Williams said.

“I think it does make you smarter,” he said. “There’s research to back that up. I think it teaches you things that students can’t get in other places. It teaches them how to work in a group, it teaches them how to be independent and work individually, how to set goals and work towards them.

“But it also is a language — and most people don’t recognize that. It’s its own language with its own vocabulary, and so it’s engaging parts of the brain that other classes just can’t.”

Being a part of a school band also has its social benefits, Williams said.

“Band really becomes a family for these kids,” he said.

Frank Beauchamp, the new principal at CMS, said “music is wonderful” and he is looking forward to hearing music being played at the middle school.

“I’m a musician myself. I play the fiddle,” he said. “So I really want to support that.

“You almost have to have that feeder program for the high school to have a successful band, and you look at some of the area schools around us, and that’s taking place at Barren County and Glasgow. We want to do that, too.”

Beauchamp said any time a school can offer extracurricular activities, it helps students buy in to the whole school experience.

“Students who play music, they want to be at school,” he said.

Caverna Independent Schools Superintendent Cornelius Faulkner said he supports the addition of middle school programs.

“We need that feeder at our middle school for all our programs in high school,” he said. “It’d be nice to see a middle school baseball and softball team … a middle school volleyball team. Those kinds of things, we haven’t really looked into in awhile, and it’d be good if we can.

“It’d be good to see those things because it will only help our high school programs.”

Williams said the CMS band program is currently seeking donations from the community.

“It’s thrilling that we are getting to do this, but we are in desperate need of band instruments,” he said. “Hopefully some of the kids will be able to buy their own, but there will be some who cannot, and we don’t want anybody to not have the opportunity to be in band if they want to be.”

They are seeking band instruments that are in good condition, or just in need of minor repairs.

“We would love any kind of donation like that,” Williams said. “It would be really, really helpful.”

To donate an instrument, community members may send Williams an email at jeff.williams@caverna.kyschools.us, or bring the donation to the school.

“If I need to go meet somebody, I’m glad to do that as well,” he added.

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