Operation Half-Note Incorporated is an early childhood music institute founded by Vernell Bennett, Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Kentucky State University. Initially, the program was in cooperation with the Rosenwald Daycare Center, but thanks to additional funding from the Kentucky Arts Council through a Community Arts Grant, and an abundance of University, community and merchant support, the program has extended to include all of Franklin County. The primary focus of the program is multi-fold: community outreach, creating musical awareness in young children both vocally and instrumentally, self-esteem enrichment, social skills enhancement, and the reinforcement of basic literacy skills. Working in conjunction with the Rosenwald Center, the Nest Preschool, Southern Preschool, and Capitol Avenue Daycare allows the program an opportunity to benefit students from various economic, social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. There have also been several community participants as a result of advertising in local newspapers. At the conclusion of each session the students present a fully costumed and staged musical play, perform as an instrumental ensemble, and participate in a graduation ceremony. The program runs year round, meeting once per week during the fall and spring semesters and three times per week during the summer session.

Current research supports the project’s belief that children who have been exposed to music develop a better sense of discipline, increased self-esteem, enhanced social skills, and the obvious, a musical outlet to hone and express their abilities. Prior to, and following each session, camper assessments are completed by both parents and teachers of the participants as a means of creating an evaluative tool for basic competency, level of social skills, musical abilities, accomplishments and progress. The benefits of this program are abundant! Musically literate children, enhanced social skills, and the reiteration of the basic literacy and mathematical skills that should be familiar to the average pre-schooler.

In an effort of making the program accessible to all children, Operation Half-Note implemented an initiative to recruit the “special needs” child in the summer of 2000. Since that time, we have had 10 “special needs” participants who learned, grew, and excelled with their fellow “Half-Notes.” Other noteworthy accomplishments of 2000 included: establishing incorporation status, the commencement of year round sessions, the establishment of a Board of Directors, a 200% enrollment increase, the addition of two day cares, and busing for day cares without their own transportation.

During Operation Half-Note’s third year, the program received tax exempt status and continued year-round sessions. We also enrolled our 4th pre-school, Capitol Avenue Daycare.

Objectives for Operation Half-Note:

  • Branch off into neighboring counties.
  • Establish community outreach.
  • Provide a needed musical outlet for youngsters to nurture their artistic talents.
  • Introduce the “Arts” to the pre-school aged child by developing keyboard proficiency, note identification and vocal musical awareness.
  • Enhance social skills and self-esteem amongst primary students.
  • Provide University students with an opportunity to serve as mentors and junior staff.


For additional information contact:

Vernell Bennett | (502) 597-6827 | vernell.bennett@kysu.edu

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