FORT KNOX, Ky. — For kids growing up in military families, life is continually changing. However, one group of teens in Fort Knox has found a constant in music.

What You Need To Know

  • The Fort Knox Chapel Orchestra is made up of teens on base

  • Playing their instruments for the church creates community and belonging

  • The orchestra is led by Janell Deckard, who moved to the base with her parents a decade ago

  • Students meet every Sunday morning to practice and play in the church service

The group meets every Sunday to perform as the Fort Knox Main Post Chapel’s orchestra. Long before anyone arrives for the Sunday service, the group is practicing its music.

“Most of the chapels I’ve been in have a rock guitar band, but they had violins and singers and grand piano, and so I was like, ‘Hmm, maybe I can actually use my trumpeting skills here,’” said 17-year-old Kipp Gleason.

Gleason and his younger brother started playing for the Fort Knox Main Chapel’s friendly congregation shortly after they moved to the base in the fall.

“I always get thank you’s and smiling faces after,” Gleason said.

Fort Knox is the ninth place the trumpeter has lived in his lifetime. He’s invited friends in similar situations to join the orchestra.

“Kipp was like, ‘You should do this. It’d be a lot of fun,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a shot,’ and then it just kind of stuck with me,” said Kaleb Moss.

Now, Moss plays at the chapel every Sunday with his brother and sister, as well.

“Wonderful opportunity overall,” Moss said, “It gives us the opportunity to give something to the community instead of always coming and taking something from the community. It’s a blessing.”

The orchestra’s leader, Janell Deckard, shares the blessing. When her own family moved to Fort Knox ten years ago, she found belonging in the chapel orchestra, too.

She’s been leading it ever since, welcoming anyone who wants to play, young or old. Even though it’s open to all ages, since the church returned to normal services following the pandemic, it’s been the teenagers who are stepping up to play.

Deckard prepares and sends out the group’s music every week. She says she’s impressed with the teenagers’ dedication.

“They’ve got sports and Scouts and other music lessons, and so for them to take the time for chapel music, it is actually a sacrifice and an investment,” she said. “They’ve very busy, and they’re very generous with their time.”

The chapel’s pastor echoes that sentiment, saying the teens have become an important part of his congregation.

“It raises the whole quality of worship when you have young people playing the way they’re playing with instruments,” said Pastor Stuart Kazarovich. “It just brings a little bit of reverence and a little bit of majesty to the service, and it’s just really encouraging to see young people doing this.”