Guitar strings and students

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Guitar club performs at school, city events

CANNELTON - Eighth-grader Gary Biever "fiddled around with my brother's guitar when I was little," he said. His interest in playing the instrument has remained strong enough that he's stayed with a guitar club formed by Cannelton High School teacher Penny Hardman even as other students have come and gone.

"People have dropped out," he said of a club now in its second year of public performances. "I guess they just got tired of practicing."

"We really meet just Thursdays," Hardman said, but she often stays after school other afternoons, and "the kids come in and jam." She said some "have come pretty far" in their informal musical abilities.

She, too, noted that students have come and gone.

"It's kind of a revolving door," she said. Of the original members, guitarists Biever and Tabatha Little, bass-guitar player Heather Mullen and drummer Dylan Schneider still show up regularly.

School social worker Rob Moskos, who has secured several grants to fund after-school activities, found one through the Lincoln Hills Development Corp.'s Jan Sprinkle to buy some guitars. Moskos gave credit to Hardman and Sprinkle.

"I knew a teacher who had an interest," he said. "She was the one who ran with it."

Sprinkle's role was matching a resource - grant money intended to prevent and reduce tobacco use among teens - with the need Hardman identified.

The News was unable to contact Sprinkle Wednesday morning for comment.

Other instruments and players eventually found their way to the performers' meeting room.

"One girl wanted to play the bass and had her own," Hardman said, "and the school had a drum set. It just expands a little bit more every year."

The performers played at a couple of school assemblies and a Christmas program last year, and the city's Heritage Festival and veterans program this year, Hardman said.

Last year's Christmas program was their first public performance, "and they got a standing ovation," the teacher boasted.

This year's program will begin at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Cannelton Community Center.

"I'd like for them to become kind of a pep band for the school," Hardman said of the club members. "The challenge is learning the school song with these instruments. I don't know if that will happen this year."