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The West Music Blog
The West Music Blog presents articles, press releases and other information of interest to our local and worldwide customers.

Blogs by Melissa Blum

Make It A World Music Drumming Summer!
By Melissa Blum
6/5/2014 2:12:00 PM  

Join West Music’s Melissa Blum for Drumming Up the Fun! A week-long workshop for teachers of children ages 3-8, part of the World Music Drumming Summer Workshops!

Now in its 6th year, Drumming Up the Fun! combines Melissa’s passion for Early Childhood Music and Movement and World Music Drumming! Join us as we explore:

  • Understanding and experiencing some the World Music Drumming Ensembles in their original form and learning how to adapt them without “losing the groove!”
  • Adding Early Childhood Songs to the ensembles to create program ideas for parent night, open houses, and other performance opportunities
  • Creating Sound Stories using wonderful children’s literature, percussion, sound effects instruments and more!
  • Personal Musical Growth on Remo Tubanos and other percussion instruments
  • Working with the amazing World Music Drumming Staff to explore other “tried and true” ways to incorporate drums and percussion in the early childhood classroom!

3 locations for summer 2014!

  • June 9-13 Tampa, FL
  • June 22-27 Oconomowoc, WI
  • July 21-25 Boston, MA

About Melissa:
Melissa Blum has over 25 years experience teaching music at the pre-K, elementary, middle school, and adult levels. She is a Vice President at West Music, where she is Director of National Sales and Service and an Educational Consultant for early childhood products and World Music Drumming. She has participated in the World Music Drumming summer workshops since 2004, completing Levels 1, 2, and 3 multiple times, and has completed Remo HealthRHYTHMS facilitator training. She has facilitated World Music Drumming ensembles as a team-building exercise at a variety of corporate and community events for children and adults, and is a clinician for daycare/preschool providers and ECMM educators on the topic of incorporating developmentally appropriate music activities in the pre-k classroom setting. Melissa has a Bachelor of Music degree and K-12 Music Education Certification from The University of Iowa, and has completed graduate coursework in Music Education and General Education.

Make it a World Music Drumming Summer!

West Music is pleased to provide instruments and materials for the Summer 2014 World Music Drumming Workshops with Will Schmid!

June 2-6 Rapid City, SD (Level 1, Kids, Choir & Drums)
June 9-13 Tampa, FL (Levels 1,2,3, Drumming Up the Fun)
June 16-20 Albuquerque, NM (Levels 1,2)
June 16-20 Columbus, OH (Level 1)
June 16-20 Houston, TX (Level 1, Curriculum Update - NEW!)
June 22-27 Oconomowoc, WI (Levels 1,2,3, Drumming Up the Fun, Kids, Choir & Drums)
July 7-11 Boulder, CO (Level 1)
July 7-11 Leesburg, VA (Levels 1, 2, 3)
July 14-18 St. Louis (Level 1, Curriculum Update - NEW!)
July 21-25 Boston, MA (Levels 1,2, Drumming Up the fun, Walt Hampton Hot Marimba)
July 28-Aug.1 Portland, OR (Levels 1, 2, Walt Hampton Hot Marimba)

Wondering what happens at these life-changing week-long workshops for teachers? Check out this “sampler video” made by 2010 participant Lorrie Heagy!

More workshop information and registration can be found at

Looking for ways to incorporate World Music Drumming in your classroom? Check out some of our best selling instruments, books and resources!

Remo 100 Series Key-Tuned Kintekloth Tubano

Remo Key-Tuned Tubanos are literally the West Music product I use more than any other.  They are the foundation of the World Music Drumming Curriculum and are ideally suited for use in General Music Classrooms:

The sturdy feet mean the drum does not have to be tipped to play.
The synthetic head and acousticon body are easily cleaned—you can even use a regular antibacterial wipe on them.
Investing in the key-tuned series means you can keep the drums sounding just as you want them, with varied voicing among the different sized drums.
You will never regret this purchase!

Remo AK-4104 Key-Tuned Standing Ngoma Drum

Traditional West African drum, drum-key tunable, 40" tall with a 14" head. Meant to be played with sticks (not included) or with the hands. Designed by the legendary Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, the timbre of this drum is similar to a conga or large tubano, only bigger. The standing ngoma comes with a high-density molded base which protect the bottom of the shell, minimizes the drums walking during play, and raises drum off the floor to increase the tone quality and projection.

Remo World Music Drumming Series Drumming Package A

"After taking Will Schmid's World Music Drumming course I had to get the Remo World Music Drumming (Package A) it'is a great set of drums perfect for my middle school general music classes! With 16 drums and a leader's drum, there are enough drums for everyone to play at the same time without waiting to share an instrument. The additional percussion instruments are also great to add different timbres to the sound of the drums. I have also used these in my church and am looking to purchase another set to use there. These are lots of fun to play and immediately gets everyone involved in music making!" - Customer Review

World Music Drumming Cross-Cultural Curriculum by Will Schmid World Music Drumming is a cross-cultural curriculum to learn drumming techniques, learn songs with accompaniment and movement, connect African andLatin American cultural traditions to the music performed, and discover how music can be the perfect vehicle for teaching team building, respect, focusing, listening, problem solving, and other important life skills. The curriculum is aimed at grades 6-8 but includes extensions for lower grades and high school.
The teacher guide provides 30 lesson plans with goals and objectives, step-by-step teaching process of new techniques and songs, review materials, sharing activities, cultural connections, ensemble work, Q & A section, assessment, and supplemental ideas.
The student book contains reproducible pages with maps, cultural information, vocabulary practice,assessment exercises, and songs.
The DVD shows middle school students in a classroom setting, demonstrating the drumming techniques and ensembles for the World Music Drumming curriculum.

Beatbox: World Music Drumming 101 by Will Schmid

Kids love to drum! No matter what instruments you have or don't have available, BeatBox will get you started. Students will experience a variety of world drumming styles as they accompany folk melodies and original songs. Music inspirations include a basic rock drumming pattern, the sound of a mbira (thumb piano) with xylophones, a Haitian meringue ensemble, body percussion from the tradition of hambone and step-dancing, and a lively fiddle tune with an Irish bodhran drumming part. 
Experiment with call and response, layered ostinatos, syncopation and improvisation. Learn the Bamboo Tamboo from the Caribbean, the Highlife from West Africa, and how to make a drum talk.

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Tags: N/A
Categories: Orff, Drums & Percussion
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Meet the West Music Education Consultants
By Melissa Blum
7/25/2012 3:09:00 PM  

Know you need some items for your classroom but you’re not exactly sure what? Have a wish list but don’t know if wishes can come true? Heard about a program or instruments but need some more information? Or, do you just need some extra time with your decisions? The West Music Education Consultants are here for you! Our Consultants have many years experience in the classroom, recording studio, clinical setting, and more, as well as a combined 70+ years helping West Music customers with their product needs. Contact one of our consultants today to help you find just what you need.

We welcome your phone or email inquiries, or stop and say hello when we are on the road at workshops and conventions. Our toll free number is 800-397-9378. See each listing for phone extension and email address. While we’ve included some of our specific areas of expertise, any of us will be delighted to help you with your overall classroom (plus studio, clinical, home…) needs!

  • Jenny Winegarden specializes in hand percussion, drums, and Music Therapy products and resources. You can reach her at extension 1320 or email
  • Judy Pine specializes in Orff instruments and recorders. You can reach her at extension 1300 or email
  • Kathy Bohstedt specializes in books and media. You can reach her at extension 1307 or email
  • Kyle Ware specializes in keyboards, guitars and folk instruments, software, and sound systems. You can reach him at extension 1310 or email
  • Melissa Blum specializes in group drumming and early childhood. You can reach her at extension 1111 or email
  • Randy Hargis is your Texas connection! Based in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Randy is available for our Texas customers to be a local source for your music education needs. You can reach him at extension 1309 or email

We all look forward to working with you soon!

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Tags: Music Education, Music Education Consultants, Music Consultants, Education Consultants, Jenny Winegarden, Judy Pine, West Music Education Consultants, Classroom Consultants, Kathy Bohstedt, Kyle Ware, Melissa Blum, Randy Hargis
Categories: Classroom Furniture & Equipment
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Packing Up For Summer? Don't Forget to Protect Your Instruments!
By Melissa Blum
5/30/2012 1:00:00 PM  

As the year winds down and summer heats up, are you packing up your instruments for summer storage? Perhaps the floors in your classroom are being redone or construction projects will be taking place. You’ve invested a great deal in your classroom instruments; here’s a few ways to keep them in tip top shape so they enjoy summer vacation as much as you will!

Basic Beat Orff Dust CoversOur Basic Beat Orff Dust Covers fit right over the top of your Orff Xylophones and Metallophones. The three sizes are color coded for ease of use, and will protect your Soprano, Alto/Tenor, and Bass instruments. No need to take off bars; just cover them up and they will be well-protected from dirt and dust.

Need to take the bars off for summer storage? Check out our Basic Beat Bar Bags. Each pair holds all of the bars of a single instrument. Simply slide the bars into the pockets, roll up the bag, and tie it shut. Your bars will be safe and protected and can easily be stored together in a tote or box.

Need some drum storage as well? Basic Beat Tube Drum bags come in 3 sizes and perfectly fit 10”, 12”, and 14” Tubanos or other tube-shaped drums. The lightly padded ends of the bags will protect your drum heads, and the off-set handles will make carrying the drums easier as you move them to a safe place for the summer.

We’ve all learned to stock up on Sunscreen to protect ourselves from the summer elements; this year be sure your instruments are protected from their summer elements as well!

Basic Beat Bar Bags

Basic Beat Tube Drum Bags

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Tags: Orff Tips, Orff Guide, Orff Maintenace, Orff Care, Mallets Guide, Mallets Care, Mallets Maintenance
Categories: Orff
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Props Where Props Are Due…Outdoors This Summer!
By Melissa Blum
6/3/2011 2:17:00 PM  

As the weather and the excitement of summer begin to heat up, why not take your music activities outside with our great selection of movement props! Plan some favorite songs to sing, or take an outdoor CD player with you to add more fun to the event.

Parachutes are perennial favorites for circle games, with three sizes to fit any group. Up , down, around, and wavy are all fun techniques! Try putting a beach ball (or 2 or 3!) in the middle of the parachute, turn a favorite piece on the CD player, and see if you can keep the beach ball on the parachute while moving to the music! Not only will the activity inspire lots of giggles, it’s a great way to foster teamwork!

Our scarves and streamers bring color recognition, movement exploration, creative dance, and more to an even greater level when used outdoors as the wind, sunshine, and colors of nature all have an impact on how everything looks and moves! Dance and sing, move and create—all perfect ways to make summer musical memories!


Click HERE to view our extensive selection of movement props and accessories!

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Tags: Summer Ideas, Summer Fun, Creative, Music Activities, Music Activity Ideas
Categories: Kids & Movement
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We Each Learn Our Way
By Melissa Blum
8/11/2010 5:34:00 PM  

With the start of the fall semester of Kindermusik classes, I am reminded once again of the many ways that music participation helps children grow and learn.

A few years ago, one of my Kindermusik parents came to the first class of the new fall semester with tears in her eyes. Her son, Michael, was 2 ½ years old, and had been in Kindermusik since he was an infant. He was a quiet child and rarely participated in class, but would show his mom how much he had learned when he was at home—often singing the songs and playing his instruments as we had in class and more. Though I frequently remind parents that every child is different in how he or she experiences class, this mom still wished Michael would actively demonstrate in class how much he enjoyed coming.

That morning, as they'd gotten ready for their day, Michael's mom told him that he'd be going to music class that morning, the first class of the new semester! Michael was very excited to go. His mom asked him,

"Are you going to sing at class?"

He replied, "No."

"Are you going to dance at class?"


"Are you going to play the instruments?"


Finally she asked, "What are you going to do at Kindermusik?"

Michael smiled and replied, "I listen."

Michael and his mom happily came to class that day and many others!

Kindermusik early childhood music and movement classes are available at West Music in Coralville, Marion, and Quad Cities.

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Tags: Kindermusik, Children and Music, Children and Kindermusik, Music Education
Categories: Kids & Movement
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