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Beaver Dam’s Seippel Center has new focus

December 27, 2018

Change is underway and come January, music will fill the air at the Seippel Homestead at 1605 N. Spring St., Beaver Dam.

According to Chelsey Seippel, the Peter J. Seippel Foundation donated the family homestead in 1995 for the use of the community.

It served as the longtime location of the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association until that organization moved downtown this past summer.

“About a year ago, we realized this would be a great place to integrate music,” said Chelsey Seippel, whose father Peter was a Wayland alumnus and a local businesmann and philanthropist. He died of cancer at age 57 in 2001. “Renovations are being done and this place will become The Seippel Center for Music and the Arts.”

Seippel will oversee the center as its executive director and has brought on Rich Zeman to serve as music director. Zeman retired from the Beaver Dam Unified School District after teaching band for 34 years. He also is in his 28th year as the conductor of the Beaver Dam Area Orchestra.

The upstairs bedrooms of the grand home are being converted into studios, and pianos will be delivered this week.

Zeman said his job is to find people in the music community to come and teach privately. The teachers will pay a nominal fee to lease studio space from the nonprofit organization. Lessons, fees and schedules are coordinated directly with the music instructors.

Typical 30-minute private lessons will take place weekly and cost $15-$20. Lessons are going to be available for students of all ages, beginners through advanced.

“I wish I had a dollar in my career for anytime someone would ask me, ‘Do you know anyone who teaches piano?’” Zeman said. “The whole idea now is that they can come here. There’s a real need.”

The center already has some piano, voice, violin and band instructors lined up. The plan is to have a soft start in January and have full operational hours from 2-8 p.m. by September.

The private lessons will act as a catalyst to get people to come to the center, but Seippel said more than just music is in its future.

“We’re looking at visual arts and fun events. People will be able to come here to hold meetings,” she said. “We want to have a summer concert series out on the grounds.”

An outside shed at the Seippel Homestead was recently remodeled into classrooms.

“We were thinking of using that space as a performance area or a clinic area. Really it’s for the use of the community,” Seippel said. “Now that there will be hotels right down the road, we could even hold retreats — there are many possibilities.”

Zeman said he is looking forward to a community space that’s buzzing with people playing and singing.

“It’s really a kick to be involved in this,” he said. “It’s not just teaching for me; I’ve done enough of that. And it’s not just performing; I’ve done enough of that. It’s the idea of being able to help on the ground level of creating something that can connect teachers and students.”

For more information, email the center at seippelcenter@gmail.com or go to theseippelcenter.org.

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