He began playing in the middle school concert band when he entered sixth grade. In the seventh grade, he was involved in marching band and concert band.

Now Williamstown, Kentucky native Billy Carpenter will be teaching band students at North Laurel High School.

Carpenter was welcomed as the school's new band director during a reception in the school library last week. He is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and while he initially played euphonium (baritone) in high school and college, his music major has lead him to play numerous instruments.

He was impressed with his reception by staff, parents and band students during Tuesday night's welcoming and looks forward to expanding the current band program at NLHS.

Carpenter said he heard of the vacancy at the northern Laurel school and applied, although he said he never dreamed he would be the person chosen to lead the band program.

"I have a lot of friends who said North Laurel was looking for a band director and that this was a good place to be," he said. "I thought it was a great opportunity, but I was really in shock when I got the call that I'd been chosen for the job."

That announcement came quickly after the interview process, he said.

"I came here for an interview and had just pulled back into the parking lot where I was working a music camp when I got the call offering me the job. I was pretty stunned," he explained. "I almost didn't even apply for the job because I didn't think I'd even be considered."

Carpenter is taking the helm of North Laurel High School's band program after Priscilla Wilkerson moved to be band director at North Laurel Middle School at the end of the school year. She filled the vacancy left by former NLMS band director, Brett McIntosh, who resigned to accept another job.

As a band student through middle and high school and college, Carpenter is a firm believer in the benefits of working together as a team - an ideal he wants to continue to instill in his students.

"In band, students learn that their friends rely on them. If they are not living up to what they should do, they let everyone down," he said. "We want to instill that they owe it to their friends to be at rehearsal and put out their best work."

But Carpenter realizes that the band students develop strong friendships - sometimes lifelong friendships - during the many hours they spend together as a group and he appreciates the efforts of the group as a whole to achieve and succeed. He also realizes that many students find solace in music.

While Carpenter began playing euphonium in the middle school concert band in the Williamstown Independent School district, he played various instruments during his college years. He graduated this past May with a Bachelor degree in Music Education with Instrumental Concentration. He hopes to begin pursuing his Master degree in music in the near future.

"I played sousaphone (tuba) in EKU's marching band, clarinet in concert band and euphonium in the ensemble," he said. "I think music helps people think through their emotions to help them play better."

His reception was just the beginning of Carpenter's initiation to his new position, with band camp scheduled to begin later this month. Although he said some plans were already in place for this year's marching show, he would not reveal all his ideas although he indicated the show would have a "Greek theme."

Coming to London as the NLHS band director is an exciting opportunity, he added - one that he hopes to expand.

"I want to continue to build the band program here," he said. "I have many goals and one is to grow the program to have enough students to have two band classes. I think any student that wants to be in band should be in band and have that opportunity."

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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