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Robin Walenta of West Music Presents Award to Iowan Senators
By West Music Company
5/31/2017 1:12:00 PM  
Robin Walenta and Sen Joni Ernst
Last week, Robin Walenta, President and CEO of West Music presented Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley with a flag in representation of the two school districts in Iowa that were recognized as the Best Communities for Music Education by The NAMM Foundation. The two school districts, Davenport Community School District and Sioux City Community School District, were recognized earlier this year by The NAMM Foundation as part of the organization’s Best Communities for Music Education awards program which honored 527 districts across the nation for their commitment to music education.

Walenta made the presentation as part of the annual NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In, May 22-24. Along with nearly 100 music industry leaders, notable artists, and arts education activists, Walenta took to Capitol Hill to advocate for all school-aged children to have access to quality, comprehensive school music education programs. The issue of music education takes on a special significance this year as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in 2015 by President Obama readies for state-level implementation in 2018 in the face of proposed budget cuts. New research also shows strong ties between K-12 school students who actively participate in school music education programs and overall student success. A recent study of students in the Chicago Public Schools by brain researchers at Northwestern University, detailed in Neuroscientist Education Week, builds on previous findings that participation in music education programs helps improve brain function, discipline and language development.
 
Robin Walenta and Sen Chuck Grassley

“Music and music making is vitally important to offering students a well-rounded education,” shared Walenta. “We join this week of advocacy to reinforce the importance of funding music and the arts, and in this case, to share the stories and an award of the districts in our home state where music is making a difference. The Best Communities for Music Education award represents the dedication of the students, teachers, administrators and community at large in Iowa that value the importance of music education.”

West Music is a third generation locally owned and family operated business. For over 75 years, West Music has been the area’s leading partner in music education, specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offering music instruction, repair, and music therapy services. With seven retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education and percussion communities, West Music strives to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play now and play for life.

 

 

   NAMM Logo

About NAMM

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music. NAMM's activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of approximately10,300 Member companies located in more than 103 countries. For more information about NAMM or the proven benefits of making music, interested parties can visit www.namm.org, call 800-767-NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

To learn more about NAMM and the Top 100 Dealer Awards, please visit https://www.namm.org/summer/2017/top-dealer-awards

West Music Logo

About West Music

West Music is a third generation locally owned and family operated business. For over 75 years, West Music has been the area’s leading partner in music education, specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offering music instruction, repair, and music therapy services. With seven retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education and percussion communities, West Music strives to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play now and play for life. For more information, visit westmusic.com or call 1-800-373-2000.



Tags: music advocacy, washington, dc, robin walenta, namm
Categories: Press Releases, Music Advocacy
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Celtic Camp is Heating Up This Summer
By West Music Company
5/24/2017 12:39:00 PM  
West Music Celtic CampLast summer’s Celtic Camp was such a success, that we’re doing it again! Celtic Camp is a week-long summer program at West Music Cedar Rapids for intermediate-level music students. It’s a chance to for students to learn a whole new genre of music in a fun, laid-back environment perfect for the summer. The program ends with a public performance to showcase what the students have learned. Last year, we played at NewBo City Market. This year we’re scheduled to play a two-hour concert at the Cedar Rapids Downtown Public Library!

Middle and high school students who play a woodwind or string instrument are invited to take part in this camp. While flutes are most traditionally seen in Celtic music, all woodwind instruments are welcomed, including saxaphones.

Celtic Camp Performance NewboTo get the most out of this class, string players should be able to play from Suzuki Book 3. Woodwind players should be playing from Standards of Excellence Book 2 or Student Instrumental Course 2 and have good tone. The average student age is 12 to 15.

Laura Phillips and Mike Hall will once again lead this class. Laura is a woodwinds instructor, public school music teacher, music composer and arranger. When she’s not busy with her students or writing music, she performs in the local Irish folk band, Irishjam. Mike is a professional musician with Orchestra Iowa and teaches violin and viola at West Music.

Celtic Camp is a great way for students to grow as musicians. Traditional Irish folk music uses a lot of rhythm groupings in 3's, as well as groupings of 2's, which gives students a challenge!  Also, it’s an opportunity to play as part of an ensemble.  We’ve seen students grow leaps and bounds by learning to play Celtic music as part of a group. And, while we cannot promise anything, last year three Celtic Camp students did go onto All State.

We hope to see your son or daughter at this year’s Celtic Camp. Register soon to reserve your seat!

Celtic Camp at West Music Cedar Rapids

For Intermediate-Level Middle & High School Students
July 3 - July 8, 2017
Meets every day, except July 4th, from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Performance July 8th at Cedar Rapids Downtown Library, 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Register online or by calling 800-373-2000


Hear about Celtic Camp from instructor Laura Phillips and listen to a sample of the music your child will learn how to play by the end of camp!




Tags: summer camp, celtic, irish, classes, cedar rapids, downtown
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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West Music’s Nancy Cree Keyboard Recitals to Honor Prominent Composer
By Tina Chapman
5/17/2017 12:53:00 PM  
Robert D. Vandall

Coralville, IA – May 17, 2017 – West Music will honor prominent composer Robert D. Vandall at their Two Grand Spring Recitals this weekend at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts. The recitals feature students of West Music based Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Centers. Students from age 4 to adult will be performing including special recognition for our students graduating from high school.

Prolific composer Robert D. Vandall passed away in February at age 72 following a long and courageous battle with cancer. Vandall published more than 500 works under Alfred Publishing. In addition to operating a private studio in Ohio with his wife Karen, Vandall presented and taught workshops in more than 30 states for many years including many locally at West Music.

Two of this weekend’s series of recitals will feature works by Vandall. Recital times for the Vandall-centered recitals are May 20 at 1:00 p.m. and May 21 at 4:30 p.m. both at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts, 1301 5th Street in Coralville, Iowa. The events are free and open to the public.

“His true passion was composing. He will be missed all over the world for his amazing talent,” said Tina Chapman, Supervisor and Head Teacher of Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Center at West Music. “We will keep his spirit alive by playing and sharing his music. It is our honor to present several of his pieces in this weekend’s recitals.”


     Nancy Cree Keyboard Logo 


About Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Centers

The Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Center Program seeks to open as many musical doors as possible to its students. From traditional acoustic piano to the newest electronic technology, the instruction seeks to introduce and excite the student to a variety of musical possibilities. We take a broad range approach to the varied musical traditions such as classical, jazz, folk and popular music. Music is learned, then performed among family and friends in a variety of social settings. Students develop self-confidence, stage presence and have fun performing together in a cooperative environment. To learn more or sign up for Nancy Cree or any West Music classes visit westmusic.com/lessons.

West Music Logo

About West Music

West Music is a third generation locally owned and family operated business. For over 75 years, West Music has been the area’s leading partner in music education, specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offering music instruction, repair, and music therapy services. With seven retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education and percussion communities, West Music strives to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play now and play for life. For more information, visit westmusic.com or call 1-800-373-2000.



Tags: piano recital, lessons, Coralville, Alfred Publishing
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville, Press Releases
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Finger Placement for String Instruments
By Katie Senn
5/12/2017 10:57:00 AM  

Finger Placement for String Instruments

When someone talks about having correct finger placement when playing a stringed instrument, they are typically referring to two things: how you place your fingers on the strings and where you place your fingers on the strings. Building good finger placement habits is extremely important for playing in tune and with ease. West Music has been working with musicians and music teachers for over 75 years. In that time, we’ve learned a few tricks to help you or your student play like a pro. 

West Music Pro Tip Before You Start

One tip we give new players is to use finger tapes. Violins and other orchestral stringed instruments do not have frets like guitars. That means there’s no visual guide to help you determine where your fingers should go.  We’ve found the easiest way to get around this issue is by placing finger tapes on the fingerboard. We like to think of finger tapes like training wheels; eventually they will come off because you will have developed “muscle memory” to recall exactly where to place your fingers.


Violin Finger Placement

As a beginning violin player, the initial hand position you will learn is called first position. First position allows you to play the first five notes on each violin string. 

To get your hand into the right position, turn your left hand towards you and curl your fingers like you are examining your fingernails. Now, slightly spread your fingers apart. As you do this, you will notice that there is a naturally wider gap between your 1st finger and 2nd finger (index and middle) as well as your 3rd and 4th finger (ring and pinky). You will also notice that there isn't a very big space between your 2nd and 3rd finger (middle and ring).

Now pretend that your hand is in this same position, but curl it around the neck of your violin. Place your first finger about two half-steps up from the nut, and there you have it! First position. In this relaxed position, there are two half-steps between your 1st and 2nd finger, one half-step from the 2nd to the 3rd finger, and two half-steps between the 3rd and 4th finger.

Violin Finger Placement
 Violin Finger Placement


Viola Finger Placement

If you were looking at the strings on the viola from left to right, the string on the far left would be the thickest as well as the lowest-pitched string (C String). The strings ascend in perfect fifths until reaching the far-right string which is the thinnest and the highest-toned string (A String).

Keep your right hand relaxed around the fingerboard and your wrist gently rounded. Take care not to rest your wrist on the viola’s neck. Maintain a curved, open space between the thumb and index finger, so that it makes a backwards "C" shape.  From this position your fingers can move easily and hover over the strings comfortably.

viola finger placement viola finger placement


Cello Finger Placement

To form the proper cello hand and finger position, place your fingers tips on the string. Your thumb should be placed on the back of the neck, directly opposite from your second finger.  By positioning your hand in this way, it should form a curved "C" shape with your fingers.

As with the other string instruments, using finger tape on the fingerboard is a smart way for beginners to memorize the placement of different notes. On the cello, the tape is usually used to mark a regular 1st finger (the E note on the D string), 2nd finger (the F note on the D string), 3rd finger (the F# note on the D string), and the 4th finger (the G note on the D string).

cello finger placement
 cello finger placement

Double Bass Finger Placement

The double bass is the largest instrument in the orchestral string family, correct hand and finger placement is especially important. Similar to the cello, proper hand placement includes your thumb opposite of your 2nd finger on the back of the neck while your hand forms a curved “C” shape.

Your thumb shouldn't squeeze the neck of the bass or fully support the weight of the instrument, and it is advised to have the instrument lean slightly forward. This can help your fingers press down on the strings while preventing your thumb from squeezing at the same time. By keeping your hand balanced and curved into a “C” shape, this also allows the fingers to push down without the support of the thumb.

No matter what string instrument you play, correct finger placement is vital to play in tune and have a clear sound. By learning and practicing the correct technique from the very beginning, you are laying down a good foundation and ensuring future success with your instrument.

West Music Commitment to You!

We at West Music have a motto: Play Now. Play for Life. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn to play and enjoy music. As part of this commitment, West Music’s Orchestral Division offers a wide selection of hand-selected, quality stringed instruments for the beginning, intermediate and advanced musician. With options to rent or purchase your instrument, it’s never been easier to play!

If you live in Eastern Iowa or Western Illinois and would like to take lessons with a West Music instructor, visit our Music Lessons & Classes page.



Tags: beginner, school, orchestra, strings, how-to, katie senn
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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West Music Recognized as One of the Top 100 Music Stores in the World
By West Music Company
5/11/2017 8:42:00 AM  
Top 100 Dealer

Coralville, IA – May 9, 2017  West Music has been named as a Top 100 Dealer by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the global association of music products and music retailers. The organization will formally present the award to West Music on Friday, July 14 at the Top 100 Dealer Awards event held as part of the 2017 Summer NAMM Show in Nashville, Tennessee.

"At the heart of West Music, there is a story of inspiration, dedication and a pursuit to create a more musical world," shared Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO. "The Top 100 Dealer award underscores their commitment – to their communities, their staff, and the industry to create a space which welcomes and inspires music makers through their products and services."

West Music was selected as a Top 100 Dealer by an independent panel of judges who reviewed hundreds of submissions. Each submission was numerically rated across categories that included customer service, music advocacy, store design and promotions and were scored in accordance to determine the Top 100 list. 

"For the seventh straight year, West Music is honored to be recognized as a Top 100 Dealer by the National Association of Music Merchants. This perennial recognition is a direct result of our committed associates' passion for delivering an outstanding customer experience through quality products and services and our belief that participation in music has a positive impact on every person's life," said Robin Walenta, West Music President.

    NAMM Logo

About NAMM

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music. NAMM's activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of approximately10,300 Member companies located in more than 103 countries. For more information about NAMM or the proven benefits of making music, interested parties can visit www.namm.org, call 800-767-NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. 

To learn more about NAMM and the Top 100 Dealer Awards, please visit https://www.namm.org/summer/2017/top-dealer-awards

West Music Logo

About West Music

West Music is a third generation locally owned and family operated business. For over 75 years, West Music has been the area’s leading partner in music education, specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offering music instruction, repair, and music therapy services. With seven retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education and percussion communities, West Music strives to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play now and play for life. For more information, visit westmusic.com or call 1-800-373-2000.



Tags: award, namm, robin walenta
Categories: Press Releases
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Extraordinary Associate of the Month April 2017: Ann Kephart
By West Music Company
5/10/2017 12:52:00 PM  
Ann is an absolute pleasure to work with. Her insight, feedback and analysis of sales and operational strategies are greatly appreciated among her colleagues. Ann’s customers greatly value her service and are as loyal as they come.

Have you seen the Decorah store lately? The store is expertly merchandised and always looks fresh for her customers, accomplished through Ann’s leadership. Ann took the re-brand to heart and has worked with our Marketing Team to develop a sharp layout and look with an inviting hometown vibe.

Ann is an active leader in the Decorah business community and serves on the Decorah Chamber of Commerce and is part of a Small Business Retail Board. In addition to her business outreach, Ann is the Director of the Nordic Dancers, which is a really big deal! It doesn’t stop there; she is constantly volunteering at Decorah High School, Luther College and at Nordic Fest. You could not get any more in-tune with the happenings in a community. The associates in the Decorah store constantly share their admiration:

“Her dedication to our customers and our team is essential to our continued success. She is always positive and encourages us to always be our best, also! Ann is constantly thinking of new ideas and new ways to help us be successful and is always willing to lend a helping hand, no matter what.”

“She is always going above and beyond for everybody she works with. We could not ask for a better Store Manager for our store and I can’t think of anyone that deserves this kind of recognition more.”

Congratulations, Ann, and thanks for all you do!

As told by Katie Senn,
Retail Sales and Operations Manager



Tags: Kephart, decorah, commerce, Nordic Dancers, Luther College, Nordic Fest
Categories: Extraordinary Associate of the Month, West Music Decorah
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70th Birthday Surprise for Mom
By West Music Company
5/3/2017 4:25:00 PM  

Customer Becky Steenhoek shares his story of planning the perfect surprise birthday gift for his mother, a life-long piano player. Dennis and his family lead his mom on a scavenger hunt that ended at her very own grand piano at West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery. 


birthday grand pianoBy: Becky Steenhoek

For our mother's 70th birthday celebration, the planning started months in advance, as we knew we wanted to do something extra special to celebrate her big day. Our mother has always been the one to go above and beyond to do things for others, so for once, we wanted to surprise her and make her feel special.
Music has always been her passion. Playing the piano and organ, singing, directing church choirs, composing music and creating beautiful Easter and Christmas cantatas, music has been a huge part of her life, and something that continues to bring her great joy. But the one thing she had always (secretly) wanted was her very own grand piano, which became the inspiration for her 70th birthday surprise.

birthday grand piano
Dad spent 6 months planning for Mom’s big day. After doing some research on his own, Dad revealed to us kids that he wanted to get Mom a grand piano for her birthday. Over the next five months, Dad enlisted the help of Store Manager Jeff Musel at West Music, who not only taught Dad a lot about pianos, but also was an integral part in helping us create a magical day for Mom. While Dad talked pianos with Jeff, my brother (Brian), sisters (Julie and Amy), and I (Becky) plotted and planned the surprise.

After coordinating airfare and travel plans for siblings who lived out of state, we created a birthday scavenger hunt that began in our hometown of Pella, and ended in Urbandale at West Music, where Mom would be welcomed by Jeff and a showroom filled with grand pianos. At each "stop" during the scavenger hunt, she was greeted by one of us and given a clue to her next destination, all of which had some sort of "grand piano" related innuendo. Throughout the day, the scavenger hunt led Mom to the Marriott Hotel on Grand Avenue in downtown Des Moines to the Dueling Piano Bar in West Des Moines, to the White House Black Market store at Jordan Creek Mall, and of course to the final destination, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery, where there were seven grand pianos with balloons tied to each of them, one of which our mom would get to pick out and bring home.

Needless to say, the entire weekend was full of fun and surprises, and it's something our family will never forget. It was a very special day, and a big part of that is because of the people at West Music, who were so helpful and accommodating throughout the entire process. From Jeff decorating the pianos with balloons to Tanner playing "Happy Birthday" when our mom walked through the door, they really were the cherry on top of a perfect day. Thank you Jeff, Tanner and West Music for being a part of making a dream come true for our mom. I only wish you could see the way she smiles every time she sits down to play at her very own Yamaha Grand piano!


Thank you Becky for letting us be part of this incredible day! Follow us on Facebook for more stories and suppries like these: facebook.com/westmusic




Tags: N/A
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery
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Coralville April 2017 Musician of the Month: Alyssa Wasmund
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Alyssa Wasmund is in the 7th grade. She studies voice with Jessica Saunders and piano with Tina Chapman. Her voice instructor nominated her to be a featured student because “Alyssa is an excellent all around student and musician. As a singer she has a lovely voice that is mature for her age, without being forced. Alyssa is always willing to try new styles of music and we have worked on everything from pop to Italian art song! Alyssa is wonderfully musical and expressive during performances.” She also plays the flute.  Alyssa earned a 1 rating at the recent IMTA piano festival and has started to work on her second Italian song in her voice studies!

She has always wanted to sing in musicals, and also likes modern rock music. She loves that music is not just about creativity, but also about learning new things and challenging yourself. Her advice to other musicians is “Never give up. Even if you mess up in the middle of a song, don’t stop!” Other hobbies include reading, writing, drawing, ice skating and GLOW club. 

Congratulations, Alyssa!



Tags: voice, vocal, lesson, teach, piano, Jessica Saunders, Tina Chapman,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Cedar Rapids April 2017 Musician of the Month: Benjamin Hollinger
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Our musician of the month for May 2017 is Benjamin Hollinger. Benjamin is a piano student of James Jenkins here at West Music Cedar Rapids. He is in the 3rd grade at Prairie View Elementary school. He has studied piano with Mr. Jenkins for 1½ years. Benjamin is always prepared for his lessons and always has a great lesson.

Benjamin’s musical goals are to learn to play the drums and play in a school band and church youth group. His advice to other musicians is to NOT quit even if you get frustrated! The thing he likes most about making music is to listen to the music he plays.

Some other interests Benjamin includes are soccer, chess, working on projects, building things, and computer programming. His favorite music is 80’s rock. Something that you might not know about Benjamin is that he was born with a club foot.
Congratulations, Benjamin! Great job!



Tags: West Music, Cedar Rapids, piano, lessons, James Jenkins
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Falls April 2017 Musician of the Month: Aveinda Rusk
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Aveinda Rusk is a student at Denver Elementary. She has been studying the violin with Andrea Alert for two and a half years. She loves to play the violin because of the sound that it makes. Her advice to other musicians is to not overthink what you are playing.

Aveinda plays both the violin and oboe, and her goal is to learn the viola and cello too. Her favorite musician Lindsey Sterling. Something that might surprise others to hear is that she has five sisters. When she is not making music, Aveinda can be found playing Minecraft, Dragon City, and playing with her sisters and friends.

Way to go, Aveinda!



Tags: lesson, cedar falls, violin, Andrea Alert
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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