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Music brings Seifert home in all locations

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Schools story: Fifth in a series

By Kelly Cantrall

For the life of transition that Claire Seifert has lived, music has been a common thread running through every new place she’s called home.

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The 13-year-old, who started piano lessons as a first-grader, has been taking classes from Patti Benningfield for about nine months. In a military family, finding a piano teacher is just one of many things to do after settling into a new place. Benningfield is Claire's seventh piano teacher.

Claire will be an eighth-grader at Scott Middle School at Fort Knox. She and her family have been stationed at the post for a year. While she must pack up her life and move to a new place on a regular basis, piano in a way provides her consistency in whatever new place she finds herself.

Her mother, Myong Seifert, said finding a new teacher and getting lessons started again gets her daughter back into her routine. Claire agreed, saying the lessons allow her to “get back into the groove of things.”

Claire began lessons because her older sister played. Myong said Claire often would sit beside her sister as she played. The lessons made a positive first impression.

“I liked it at first,” she said.

After a while, as the pieces became more complicated and she needed to dedicate more time to practicing, she became frustrated  and wanted to quit. But her parents encouraged her to continue.

“But we stuck with it, we didn’t stop,” she said.

After the move to Fort Knox and her switch to Benningfield, Claire said she really began enjoying the pieces she was playing and Benningfield’s teaching technique.

“I think I started to get a new idea of the piano,” she said.

A recent piano camp at Eastern Kentucky University reinforced these new feelings. She received lessons in music technology and history and practiced for three hours each day. She said seeing the other students there inspired her to work harder. The longer practices changed her schedule at home.

“I practice more because they pushed us,” she said.

Claire also sings and was a recent member of the Junior High All-State Chorus. Singing also has eased the transition when moving, because it allowed people to get to know her after she moved to a small town in Illinois, where she sang at church.

For Claire, she likes music’s adaptability.

“It helps express how you feel,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.