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Active Music Making with Interactive Technology
By West Music Company
5/7/2016 9:58:00 AM  
Author: Manju Durairaj

Technology can be an aid to facilitate learning and teaching without compromising active music making. That is the core of effective general music instruction. Thoughtfully created PowerPoint, Word, or Notebook visuals and/or sequentially processed activities that use IWB and/or iPad/tablet can help develop, not limit the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication Skills.

Elementary music students can sing, move, dance, play instruments, notate, listen, create, and improvise in their music classes, even as the teacher uses technology-based medium to optimize and enrich student learning. Using PowerPoint or Smart Notebook application for Smartboard, one can create and edit images and pathways for vocal exploration. Animation features in PowerPoint allow students to vocally track a snowflake swirling in the wind, a bee buzzing from flower to flower, or a witch on a broomstick flying around a bonfire or in search of her cauldron of witch’s brew.

On the Interactive Whiteboard, one could create or insert an object such as a snowflake, leaf, bat, an owl, or a witch image. A contextual background and a series of related pathways may be created for the object. In a conscious effort to facilitate reading, most of the vocal or melodic contour explorations could begin on the left. Initially, the teacher may create the pathways and students may take turns coming to the Interactive Whiteboard, dragging the object along the pathway while vocalizing. Later they may create their own pathways for themselves or for their peers and work collaboratively. This is a great opportunity for quick formative assessment.

Interactive xylophones, recorders, hide and reveal activities, and smart response applications are all wonderful time saving, comprehensive, formative assessment tools. Images of objects, pathways, 2, 3, or 4 beat and pitch reading flash cards, maybe sent to iPads/ tablets via Dropbox, email, or QR codes may be accessed in the photo browser of the iPads/ tablets. Students may use whiteboard apps like Educreations (free) or Explain Everything (paid-upper elementary) to access and manipulate these images. These apps may be used to create rhythmic and melodic compositions that may be extended to movement, Orff instruments, and recorders.

Students can create, record, evaluate, and save their compositions onto student folders. The teacher may create digital portfolios for each student. These may contain screencasts, pdfs, video/audio etc. of student work, and can be easily retrievable for review for assessment, during parent conferences, and for grading purposes.

Technology is your friend!

Tags: music education, music technology, Manju Durairaj, Educreations
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Education, Live Sound, Recording & Software
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Mark Shelton on Give Me A Bucket - his starter guide to bucket drumming
By West Music Company
5/2/2016 8:15:00 AM  
Mark Shelton shares his inspiration for writing Give Me A Bucket - a starter guide to bucket drumming:

"Bucket drumming has come to the elementary music classroom with teachers and students getting in on the fun of percussion with pails. Forming this type of ensemble is easy on the budget and provides a great vehicle for learning rhythms and exploring tone colors. A simple (yet well-played) bucket drumming piece can be a real crowd-pleaser on a concert.

When I wrote Give Me A Bucket, I included a dozen short, easy-to-learn pieces for bucket ensemble along with rehearsal tips, a quick bucket tutorial, and a recording for study and inspiration. Give Me A Bucket is your starter guide for bucket drumming—whether it’s elementary music students, middle school percussionists, or even teens or adults. You can find music for a wide range of reading and skill levels.

Your students can enjoy both polyphonic ensembles, scored for a few assorted instruments, as well as unison pieces that can be played by any number of performers. Doubling (or tripling) the parts on the polyphonic ensembles adds to the fun. The unison pieces have a certain visual appeal as the audience sees all hands and sticks moving in sync.

As a bucket drumming aficionado, I was excited by the release of the Rhythm Pals and Rhythm Lids along with the Snare Clip from the folks at Remo.  The Rhythm Lids fit onto a standard plastic bucket and instantly give your pail a pre-tuned drum head tone.  Available in four types, the Rhythm Lids allow you to expand your bucket drumming palette of timbres.  Toss on a Snare Clip with a Rhythm Lid and you get an amazing snare drum sound from a five dollar bucket.  You can easily incorporate these new tone colors into the music found in Give Me A Bucket.

Check out my YouTube channel for some bucket drumming tutorials at www.youtube.com/marksheltonmusic.

Go ahead...grab a copy of Give Me A Bucket, set up a few pails, hand your students some sticks, pass out the parts, and let the bucket jam begin."

Tags: give me a bucket, drums, collection, mark shelton, bucket drumming, bucket
Categories: Drums & Percussion
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Urbandale May 2016 Musicican of the Month: Kaylyn Jensen
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:05:00 AM  
Kaylyn is in 6th grade at Summit Middle School, she has studied piano with Janet Winship at the Des Moines Piano Gallery for two years. Janet says about Kaylyn: "Kaylyn has never missed a lesson. She treats each day of practice as an opportunity to become a better musician than she was the day before. Kaylyn has participated 5 times over the past year in recitals and piano festivals. She performs with a confidence and artistry that is delightful to her audience and inspiring to other piano players. Simply put - Kaylyn uses her head and always plays from the heart."

Kaylyn's goals are to play more advanced music as she gets older, like the original Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata. Her advice to other musicians is to challenge yourself with challenging pieces. She says she loves playing music because "it lets me be creative and discover new things about myself."

Kaylyn also plays the trombone, and is involved in soccer, basketball, softball, and track. She is involved in TSA (Technology Student Association) and enjoys gardening, cooking, skiing. reading, sports, science, and history. Her favorite music genres are classical and movie/game theme songs.

Some things you may be surprised to learn about Kaylyn is that she's skied in the Rocky Mountains and started her own vegetable garden.

Great job, Kaylyn! Keep up the good work!

Tags: Janet Winship, piano gallery, urbandale, piano, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery
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Cedar Falls Teacher Feature: Virginia Lee
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:05:00 AM  
Virginia is a graduate from the University of West Chester in Pennsylvania with a BM in piano performance. She has been teaching piano lessons since 1990 working with both children and adults at varying levels of playing.

Virginia’s teaching philosophy focuses on fostering each student’s potential in technical development, diverse music appreciation, and self-confidence through performance. With her 26 year teaching experience, she actively researches new pedagogical methods to enhance and individually tailor the learning experience for piano students of all ages.

While Virginia enjoys music of all forms, her favorite composer is Beethoven. Apart from piano, Virginia enjoys gardening, reading, exercising, and traveling to experience different cultures.

You can learn more about taking lessons with Virginia by calling West Music at 800-373-2000, or register online at looking4lessons.com.

Tags: virginia lee, piano, cedar falls
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Rapids Teacher Feature: Mike Hall
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:05:00 AM  
Mike Hall teaches violin and viola here at West Music in Marion. He started teaching at the Orchestra Iowa School in 1992! Before that he taught in Des Moines and a Suzuki program in Toledo, Ohio. He first started teaching in the Pre-college department at the Cleveland Institute of Music. 

Mike started playing violin in 4th grade in the public schools. He had sporadic piano lessons with his dad (a church organist and pianist) and a year of formal lessons, but have been playing piano since age three. He also took two years of guitar lessons before violin.

Mike received his Bachelor of Music from the University of Iowa. He also received his Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music in violin and Suzuki Pedagogy where he was first in his graduating class from that program. He is an SAA registered teacher in all 10 Suzuki books. He is one of the instructors for the Fifth Grade Fiddles program offered in most of the Cedar Rapids public schools.

He plays for Orchestra Iowa. He has played previously in the Des Moines Symphony, Toledo Symphony, and two seasons with the National Repertory Orchestra. He also plays for weddings both alone and with his wife who is also a violinist. He has been known to be a strolling violinist as well!

In his spare time Mike enjoys cooking, traveling (can’t get enough of the Oregon coast!), reading, and spending time with his wife, and their cat.

His favorite thing about teaching is that he is intrigued by the different aspects of the learning process and always enjoys the excitement when something a student has been working on really clicks for the first time.  One of his favorite musical experiences has been playing at the massive St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna (which played a role in many great composers’ lives). He was also able to attend several small teacher training classes with Shinichi Suzuki during some of his last visits to the U.S. (his Suzuki instructor trainer was Dr. Suzuki’s translator!)

You can find Mike Hall on the world wide web at www.mikehallviolin.com  and www.youtube.com/user/mikehallviolin

Take lessons with Mike Hall!

Tags: mike hall, marion, violin, viola, orchestra, lesson, conservatory,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Extraordinary Associate of the Month April 2016: Cathi Dorr
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Kathy Duncan calls her Taz, like the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes! In Rod Pierson’s words, this must be in reference to “her Tasmanian she-devil work ethic and how she efficiently flies about the store in a cyclone of customer service activity.” She talks fast, walks fast, and is here to work! But when necessary, she can stop on a dime and make time for product training or helping out a customer in the store. Of course I’m talking about Cathi Dorr! Her year so far has been AMAZING!

Sales aside, it is really hard to say what she does better...Selling? Or baking? She randomly brings in baked goods for the team ‘just because she felt like baking.’ Everything she brings is remarkable. She will say it is because she is Italian, but the truth is, she has serious talent.

She serves with integrity to all of her customers and has built a community of educators that trust her, some of which have been working with her for decades! I can’t tell you how many people I meet who are graduating high school and beyond who cite Cathi as their inspiration to start playing music, to become a music educator, or as the person who helped them find the professional instrument that they play on today.

Cathi is an indispensable part of our musical community! Thank you Cathi for all you do!

As told by Leif Rehnberg,
West Music Quad Cities
Store Manager

Tags: cathi dorr, education, sales
Categories: Company Culture, Extraordinary Associate of the Month
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Coralville May 2016 Musician of the Month: Annabel Hendrickson
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Annabel is a 7th grade student at Northwest Junior High and has been studying oboe with Crystal Gillaspy for seven months. Her teacher has this to say about her: “I love working with Annabel! She practices hard, is always prepared for her lessons, and has made HUGE improvements in her oboe playing in a very short amount of time. I see great things in Annabel's future.”

She stays very busy, participating in choir, bell choir, piano, band, drama and the Coralville Public Library Teen Advisory Board. In her free time she loves reading, writing, sewing and chess.  Especially reading – she has read the Harry Potter books so many times that most of the books have fallen apart!

Annabel’s favorite kind of music is jazz and musical theatre. Her musical goal is to practice 150 minutes per week. Her favorite thing about music is the sense of accomplishment when mastering a hard piece. When asked for advice to other musicians, she offers that they should try to make practicing fun so that we don’t get bored. Very smart!

Congratulations, Annabel!

Tags: Crystal Gillaspy, oboe, coralville, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Cedar Falls May 2016 Musicican of the Month: Delaney
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Delaney is currently in 10th grade at Cedar Falls High School. She has been taking piano lessons with Virginia Lee for the past ten years. Delaney is a motivated student and an enthusiastic learner. When she first started playing, she didn’t like to practice, so her parents encouraged her to practice. Now, she practices every day on her own and she loves it. It has opened many other musical doors in her life, and her advice for other musicians is to stick with it!

Delaney loves being able to express herself through music and bring her passion forward when she plays. In addition to playing the piano, Delaney is involved in orchestra, concert choir, art and writing. She also likes composing music and writing lyrics. Her favorite musicians are Buddy Holly, Aimee Mann, and Death Cab for Cutie, to name a few. Her favorite genres are indie, alternative, and jazz. Some might be interested to find out that she is very interested in fashion and design.

Virginia Lee acknowledges Delaney’s perseverance, enthusiasm and her determination to keep on practicing, and she has enjoyed watching Delaney progress so well over the years.

Way to go, Delaney!

Tags: Cedar Falls, virginia lee, piano, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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