Caleb Haloway is a fifteen-year-old from Jacksonville that attends JHS, but aside from his accelerated coursework in school (he even skipped a year of math in seventh grade!) he is fascinated by music. His passion: Appalachian music—specifically that played on the mountain dulcimer. As he works to help preserve this musical genre, the hobby has taken him all across the US for different festivals.
It all began with piano. His teacher, Linda Locke, has been giving him lessons since the second grade. In fourth grade, he added in dulcimer lessons with Mike Anderson, and continued to expand his instrument repertoire while in the Turner Junior High jazz band and wind ensemble. Today, he learns on his own by practicing for about 30 minutes each night.
It doesn’t feel like “practice” for Caleb, though. “It’s a major stress-reliever,” he said. “I like the challenge of trying out unusual genres and finding new sources to tap into.” For the past several years, Caleb has been testing out his Appalachian genre skills by attending the Dulcimerville festival in Black Mountain, North Carolina—paid for in the first two years by scholarship, and later by a kind supporter. This year, he’ll be attending Kentucky Music Week in Bardstown, Kentucky to play there as well.
One of his favorite experiences was at the Gateway Dulcimer Festival in Belleville, Illinois, where he met a mountain dulcimer national champion—and she gave him one of her dulcimers she had won as a prize. Today, it serves as his primary instrument.
Music, for Caleb, will continue to be a hobby as he moves forward in his educational career. With a strong interest in math and science, he plans to study medicine in college. But the music does have a tie-in with those right-brained strengths. “There are a lot of patterns in music that correspond to the black and white worlds of math and science,” he said.
His family are huge supporters (and fans) of his musical talents. “They put up with all those nights of practice at home,” he said. Although during the school year most weeks consist of just 5-6 hours of practice, that number goes up during summer months. They also help him get to all of the places he plays—Grierson Days, Our Town Books, nursing homes, Pike County Color Drive, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, and more.
Caleb explained that the fundamentals of piano were his strong foundation for learning other instruments—and he encourages other young people interested in learning an instrument to start there. He now offers dulcimer lessons on his own and keeps busy in high school with the marching band, helping with accompaniments for school plays and IHSA solo/ensemble events, and loves helping out at First Christian Church. Moving forward, he hopes to always keep improving his musical skills.