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March 12, 2004

Deaf teen to perform 2 piano solos at festival

From: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee,WI,USA - Mar 12, 2004

Associated Press

Lomira - Playing the piano makes Michael Kastein feel calm, even though the 15-year-old can't hear the notes he plays.

"It's like a dream that I can play," said Kastein, who was born profoundly deaf.

Kastein will play two piano solos at Waupun High School for its district solo and ensemble festival April 13.

"I'm a little nervous, but I will keep on working and practicing and do my best," he said.

The festivals are organized by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association in schools statewide and provide student musicians with critiques of their performances.

Michael's parents, Kendall and Sue Kastein of Alto, often wonder why he keeps playing when he can't hear what he's doing.

"He must find pleasure in it somewhere, whether it's the reaction of other people or the satisfaction of doing something well in spite of his disability," Sue Kastein said. "When he practices, I often hear him going over a piece, time and time again, trying to improve."

Michael Kastein started taking piano lessons in fall from his neighbor Sue Reichhoff, whose 16-year-old daughter had already taught him how to play a few simple tunes on the piano.

Before taking up the piano, Kastein played in the percussion section for two years at Lomira Middle School, where he attends classes with an interpreter.

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