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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 Paige Schneweis

Thank You, West Music
By Paige Schneweis
4/23/2013 4:00:00 PM  

This is my final week as the Marketing Intern here at West Music Coralville, and so this will be my last blog entry.  I’ve had a great time writing little anecdotes on my experience with music to share with everyone.  Sometimes it was hard to think of what to write about (and just writing about music in general can be difficult), but the process definitely helped me reflect on how music has affected me and what I’ve learned from it.  So, thank you for reading those.  Now I want to take the time to reflect a little bit on my time here overall.

My experience here has been great, and I’ve learned a lot.  I think the most important thing I will take away from this internship is the knowledge that a career in the music industry is available to me.  I had counted the option out because I’m not a music major, but through this, I’ve learned that there are a lot of other ways to be involved.  There is a ton of behind-the-scenes work in the industry that makes the necessary tools available to teachers, students, performers, and audiences to make the music come alive.  Sure, I may not become a music teacher or a professional musician, but I can still help those who pursue those professions be successful.

This is the final scene from one of my favorite movies, “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”  If you haven’t seen it (and don’t mind spoilers), the movie is about a man, Mr. Holland, who puts his time spent composing on the back burner and takes a job as a band director.  Throughout the film, you witness the many lives he touches through music.  At the end, he receives a farewell celebration from the school, and they surprise him by performing the piece he has spent thirty years working on.  It warms your heart, it’s a bit of a tear-jerker for sensitive people like me, and it is a wonderfully inspiring film.  But it’s stories like this one, that continue to inspire me to give back to the education and experiences music has provided me.   

So, thank you, West Music, and everyone here, for showing me that pursuing what I love is indeed an option, and that I have the potential to enable others to love and share and enjoy music, too.

And, as always, thank you so much for reading.


“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

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Tags: intern, music, Mr. Holland's Opus, West Music
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Music is Peace
By Paige Schneweis
4/16/2013 4:36:00 PM  

In light of the tragedy in Boston yesterday, I simply want to pass this on.

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein

I was in the process of writing a different blog this week.  I was going to finish it, but I decided I couldn’t ignore the situation in Boston.  Like a lot of people, I’m still trying to grasp what has happened, and any sort of understanding is really beyond me right now.  So, I’m kind of relying on other people’s words at this moment for some sense of clarity.  And that is why I turn to Bernstein’s quote.

The answer to violence is not violence.  The answer is peace, love, and understanding, and to make music is to spread a universal language of just that.

May our thoughts be with those in Boston and the families and friends of those affected, and may we play just a little more intensely, beautifully, and devotedly.


“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

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A Boost in Confidence
By Paige Schneweis
4/9/2013 3:39:00 PM  

As I’ve mentioned before, this my ageout year with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps; meaning, I’m 21 and it’s my last eligible year to march.  This year is extra special because I have the privilege of being the mellophone section leader.  With this leadership position comes the responsibilities of being a prime example of what it means to be a Colt, making sure the mello section is the best we can possibly be, and ensuring that everyone has a great season.  After five years of experience with the organization, I am very excited for this opportunity.

We are currently still in pre-season mode, so we have only had one rehearsal weekend per month.  Because of the very limited amount of time together thus far, there hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunity to get to know everyone in the section, other than the basics – name, where you’re from, etc.  I’ve had the chance to chat with a particular individual from my section, though, who I am quite excited to see grow through the activity this summer.

He explained to me that he doesn’t feel like he has a lot of confidence, and that he hopes drum corps will help.

Well, he has certainly come to the right place.  Like any musical activity, drum corps provides an atmosphere that is challenging and can make you uncomfortable in the most comfortable way.  It’s a chance to stretch yourself – physically, mentally, and emotionally – in a safe environment because everybody else is doing it, too.  Simple example: The instructor is going down the line, making everyone play a difficult music segment individually.  You’re nervous as hell because you don’t want to mess up and look silly in front of your instructor and peers.  But so is everyone else.  And then you play it perfectly.  Bam.  Confidence boost.

Music is all about setting out to do something that doesn’t quite seem possible at first.  You challenge yourself.  You disappoint yourself.  You surprise yourself.  You learn to be very honest with yourself and accept the criticism with the praise.

My goal is that this person in my section will experience all of that this summer.  He’s going to be challenged.  He’s going to feel discouraged.  He’s going to learn to be honest with himself.  But he is also going to surprise himself with success.  He is going to do all of this with 149 other people doing the exact same thing.  What better way to build self-esteem?

I can’t wait to see this kid be the best one on the field.


“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

Ever had a time through music where you surprised yourself with how successful you were?  Or maybe you failed, but took it as an opportunity to reflect and try again?  Feel free to share!

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Tags: intern, music, Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, Colts, drum corps, confidence, self-esteem
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Music, the Universal Language
By Paige Schneweis
4/2/2013 3:12:00 PM  

Music has this incredible ability to transcend culture, language, and borders.  People all over the world are able to connect through music.  While browsing the internet, I have often come across inspiring examples of music bursting through barriers to unite humans, no matter background, beliefs, values, and opinions.

One of my absolute favorite illustrations of music’s transcending powers is Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir project.  According to his website, it all began as a social media experiment by a young girl back in 2009, and it has evolved into thousands of people singing together from all over the world via the internet.  If you haven’t seen any of the three Virtual Choir videos that have been produced so far, what Whitacre does is provide a video of himself conducting the piece, which people from all over the world watch and sing along with, choosing their preferred voice part, record it, and send it in.  The videos are then compiled, synced, and made into an amazing audio and visual experience.

This is the first Virtual Choir that was done, performing Whitacre’s piece, “Lux Aurumque.”  Twelve countries are represented in this first go at the project.

This is Virtual Choir 2.0 in which the singers perform his piece, “Sleep” (one of my personal favorites).  This time around, there are 2,052 performances from 58 countries!

The most recent production, Virtual Choir 3.0, revealed in April 2012, is a performance of Whitacre’s “Water Night.”  It features a stunning 3,746 videos from 73 countries!

I had already seen the videos in the past, but I decided to write this post after watching a recent TEDtalk in which Eric Whitacre and a live choir, along with singers on Skype, perform “Cloudburst.”  The experience sent chills through my body (as the other videos have done).  I actually felt tears beginning to well up, just listening to and watching people from all over the world connect with each other and with the audience through the music (with a little help from technology).  It’s a nice bit of peace in a world of far too much sadness, fighting, and hatred.  It's a little bit cheesy, but I'm being very sincere; it’s an outstanding demonstration of what the human experience should be about - unity, love, and passion.

It’s hard to really describe the experience that Eric Whitacre’s project provides.  No words can do it justice.  But I suppose that’s why music exists—to be the language for when there are no words.  So to fully understand the beauty and power of it, you really just have to watch it and listen to it, with undivided attention.

Please enjoy, and thank you for reading today.


“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

I’m going to borrow the discussion question that was on the TEDtalk page.  What role does music play in our lives?

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Tags: intern, music, universal language, Eric Whitacre, Virtual Choir
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Sometimes, Music Has Perfect Timing
By Paige Schneweis
3/25/2013 1:16:00 PM  

I think one of my favorite things about music is that it can find you when you least expect it, and yet need it the most.

Prime example…

It’s been a while since I’ve heard a newly released popular song that I’ve actually gotten attached to and played on repeat for days, weeks.  Less than a month ago, though, I finally heard one!  It’s called “Just Give Me a Reason,” and it’s by P!nk, featuring Nate Ruess, the frontman of a band I love a lot, fun.  It’s a pretty simple song, but I love the way their voices sound together.  I listen to this song whenever I get the chance, and whenever it comes on the radio, that volume knob gets cranked to the right.

Well, a couple weeks ago, I had just gotten off work at my other job, Cambus (yes, I drive buses).  There was an Iowa men’s basketball game that night, and when I was trying to leave to get home, I got caught in all of the traffic that was leaving Carver-Hawkeye Arena.  Going nowhere fast, I was starting to get frustrated.  It was 10 pm, I hadn’t been home since 8 that morning, and it was really only a five minute drive normally.  Just as I thought I might lose it, something caught my ear.  I realized it was the radio, playing what else, but my new favorite song!  With a sigh of relief, I turned that volume knob to the right and settled back into the driver’s seat, content to spend the extra time enjoying the music.  The song isn’t particularly special; it’s not a masterpiece by any means, but I always love hearing it, and somehow the radio gods knew that then would be a great time to play it.

“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

Ever have a time when music seemed to find you at just the right moment?  I encourage you to share!

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Tags: intern, music, perfect timing, Pink, Nate Ruess, Just Give Me a Reason, radio
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Sharing the Music
By Paige Schneweis
3/14/2013 12:19:00 PM  

Hi again!

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for winter and all this icky snow to be gone.  I go on spring break next week.  Not that I’m doing anything terribly exciting, but it does mean we’re getting that much closer to warm weather…and summer!

And for me, this summer is a bit more special.  I mentioned a couple posts ago a thing called drum corps.  Well, this is my last summer that I am eligible to march, and after six years, it’s a little bittersweet.

What is drum corps you ask?  Well.  Haha.  It’s simple, really.  Drum corps is a marching art, its history rooted in the American Legion and VFW.  It’s a lot less militaristic now, though.  Basically, you have your brassline, battery (on-field percussion), front ensemble (stationary percussion), and color guard.  Sounds like a marching band, yeah?  I mean, it is sort of like marching band, mostly just because you put out the same product – a show of color, movement, and sound.  The difference is the precision, excellence, discipline, and incredibly long hours of rehearsal for three months during the summer that makes drum corps way different.  And let’s not forget sleeping on buses and gym floors, taking ice cold showers, eating off a semi truck made into a kitchen, and never staying in the same place for more than a couple days.  Sounds great!

Tennesse rehearsal site 
Our housing and rehearsal site in Tennessee in 2012. Even though it was hot, at least it was pretty!

drum corps sleeping quarters Sleeping in gyms is...fun? It rained that day (not in Tennessee), so thankfully there was a volleyball net set up to double as a clothesline.

Starting in November, we have a weekend rehearsal camp once a month in Dubuque, IA, where we audition, work on fundamentals, conditioning, and begin to learn the show.  Memorial Day weekend, the corps moves in, and we begin “Cornfield,” which is where we put the show together and continue to get stronger, putting in fourteen hour rehearsal days.  The end of June/beginning of July is when the real tour begins and we go to organized shows all over the country.  The season ends with the Drum Corps International World Championships week in August at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  It’s a long three months, standing out in the sun, but it’s over before we know it.

Like I said, this will be my sixth year marching: my third year with the Colts, a World Class corps, after I marched my first three years with their younger sibling corps, the Colt Cadets.  This activity has provided me with a wonderful music education from fabulous instructors.  Some people rag on drum corps, saying that it doesn’t teach anything musical, and that it’s just about playing loud.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, we love playing loud.  A 70 person brassline blowing your face off?  Yeah, it’s awesome.  But we also learn to play musically, to convey emotion to the crowd to pull them in and engage them.  We spend hours, nitpicking at the tiniest of tiny details.

This activity is pretty special.  I’ve met a lot of amazing people and have some great stories to tell, but  I think it’s really where I’ve discovered my love for performing.  I think anyone who has experienced music understands the incredibly personal nature that it can possess, as in, I’m playing this for my ears and my ears only.  And yet, the same satisfaction found in that experience is also present in the sharing of music with other people.

This is a video of the last minute and a half of our 2012 show, “Boundaries.”  Our closer was “All By Myself.”  Someone left this comment on the video:

"Me and my dad went and saw them in Broken Arrow Oklahoma the day after my Moms' funeral. I was a little skeptical when I read they were performing "All By Myself" I snorted and thought what a waste....but the show and the closer just won me over......it made a very hard time for me a little easier to bare [sic]."

And that is why leaving home to go on tour for three months is completely and totally worth it: getting to share the music with other people.

Happy almost spring!

“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

It’s all about sharing, especially your thoughts! Do you prefer the enjoyment of music in solitude or performing for others?

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Tags: intern, performing, sharing music, drum corps, DCI, Colts, Boundaries, All By Myself
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Music Teaches Excellence
By Paige Schneweis
3/7/2013 12:56:00 PM  

Hello there!

Today, I want to share a video with you.  I always remember it when I think about some of the great things that music has taught me, one of them being to strive for excellence and perfection.  I have never encountered another class or subject that has encouraged, even pressured, me to truly desire flawlessness.  I am very thankful for my education in music, because without it, I really don’t think my work ethic would be what it is, and I wouldn’t possess that passion for making my work the absolute best possible.

And now, without further ado, a wonderful demonstration of what I’m talking about.

“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

What's one of the most important things you've learned from your experience in music?


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Tags: intern, music, music education, excellence, perfection
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I'm A Wannabe Music Major
By Paige Schneweis
2/28/2013 11:11:00 AM  

Hello again!

So, basically every semester, I go through a phase where I think a lot about the degree I’m pursuing and what sort of career I want and other sorts of future-y things like that.  It can last a matter of a few hours, a couple days, a week, or sometimes a month.  And it’s stressful.  While I’m a pretty flexible person, I do like certainty and at least a little bit of structure.  Who doesn’t? I have yet to be fully convinced that I’m on the right path, but everyone always tells me that I have plenty of time.  All I can say is that I certainly hope so.

Ok. *cutting off the sad violin in the background*

What I’m trying to get at, is that despite the uncertainty that my future currently holds, the good news is that I do have at least one thing to hold on to.


As I mentioned in my first entry, I’ve been involved in music programs since fourth grade.  It began when I took a couple years of piano lessons in elementary school.  From there, my school district’s band program started in fifth grade, which is when I began playing the alto saxophone.  Almost always first chair (I can brag), I stayed loyal to my alto all the way through high school, playing in concert band, jazz band, marching band, pit orchestra, and the occasional pep band.  I even auditioned for All-State my senior year, as well as joined chorus (so that I didn’t have to take gym class).  My sophomore year of high school, I picked up an instrument called the mellophone so I could participate in this ridiculous activity called drum corps, which I have been doing for six years now, and I will most definitely write about that at a later date.  And oh yeah, I also tried learning bass guitar for a short-lived garage band project.  It was…interesting.  Either way.  When I got to the University of Iowa, I played mellophone in the Hawkeye Marching Band for one year.  Feeling a little burnt out from all of the marching, I decided to keep my academic playing to only concert band.  The first semester of University Band, I tried playing French horn.  We got along alright, but I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to such a challenging instrument.  The three semesters after that, I played trumpet, realizing it was more similar to playing mellophone than the French horn was. (And as a former woodwind player, I now understand the trumpet player’s ego).

Phew.  There it is.  Just in case you had any doubts.  Or something.

Ever since music became a persistent part of my life, it’s been impossible to put down.  It’s like that Pringles slogan…“Once you pop, you just can’t stop.”  In fact, I’m a bit behind in my coursework for my Communication Studies degree because I keep taking music classes despite the fact that I’ve completed the requirements for a minor in Music.  I just can’t imagine going even one semester without doing something involving music. 

I’ve gone so far as to voluntarily take music theory classes.  When people who actually are music majors find out that I’m not, they always ask me why on earth I could possibly want to take music theory.  Because I can.  Because I think it’s interesting.  Because it helps me more thoroughly understand something that I love.  I enjoy learning about what makes music work.  It’s like a creative, emotional puzzle.  I do hate the sight-signing assignments, though.  Those suck.

Music is just one of those things that once you make a point of including it in your life, it will always be there, it will always come back to you.  It’s like that stalker-ish ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.  But it’s the stalker-ish ex-boyfriend/girlfriend that you secretly enjoy having around…if that makes any sense whatsoever.

I’m trying my best to continue being involved in music, despite the fact that “practical” world things are constantly demanding my attention.  I encourage you to do the same.  Take some classes, listen to an old favorite album, attend a concert, take lessons, dig out that instrument you haven’t played in a few years (or more).

And don’t even try to say, Oh I haven’t played in so long.  There’s no way I can now.  Stop.  Playing an instrument is a bit like riding a bike.  You know that old guitar, collecting dust in the basement corner?  Well, you might not be able to shred solos right away like you used to, but I bet you still remember how to strum some chords and play one or two of your favorite songs.  Your fingers will recall Für Elise when you sit down at the piano.  Pull out that trumpet or flute that’s been hiding under the bed – you can still read music.

And if you need any encouragement at all, this kid knows what’s up…

Thumbs up for rock n roll, man.

Thanks for reading today!


“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

How do you make music a part of your life?  If it’s been pushed off to the side a bit, how do you plan to make it more of a priority again?  Feel free to share how music makes your world go ‘round.

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Tags: intern, music minor, music major, music
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Meet Paige the Intern!
By Paige Schneweis
2/21/2013 2:54:00 PM  

Hello, everyone!

My name is Paige Schneweis, and I am the Marketing Intern for West Music in Coralville, IA this semester.  I’ve been here for about a month already, but I’m starting a new project: blogging.  Before I tell you what my plan is, though, I’ll tell you a little about myself.

Paige (Yep. That's me, ridin' a carousel.)

I’m currently in my third year at the University of Iowa, pursuing a degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Music and a certificate in Performing Arts Entrepreneurship.  As you try and figure out what a Communication Studies degree entails, let me just explain that you can do just about anything you want with it because it teaches skills that span across all career fields.  This has been a bit overwhelming for me, to say the least, and I’ve just started to figure out the direction I might go.  I’ve always loved music and have been consistently involved in music programs since fourth grade, and it didn’t dawn on me until a few months ago to consider pursuing a career in the music industry, even with the degree in Communication Studies.  I was always interested in music education and music performance, but never considered them a reality.  And then I discovered a part of the industry referred to as Music Business.  How perfect!  What better way to combine a practical degree with a passion that I already have?  So here I am at West Music with an internship, in the hopes of figuring out if this is where I’m meant to be.

So my goal for this blog is to continue working on my written communication skills, as well as share my love for music and hopefully inspire readers to start playing and listening if they aren’t already.

The first thing I want to do is start off with telling you about a wonderful concert I attended over Valentine’s Day weekend.  Both my boyfriend, Casey, and I are music nerds, so I took him to Chicago that Friday to see who else but the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Seeing the CSO has been on both of our bucket lists, so this opportunity was awesome (and by opportunity, I mean having a free weekend and student tickets are only $10.00!)  So, we dressed up all nice, braved the streets of Chicago during rush hour in my little Hyundai Elantra, only drove three times around the block to park, ate dinner at Bennigans, and then settled into our seats in the beautiful Symphony Center.  That weekend, the program consisted of Dvorák’s The Water Goblin, Op. 107, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30, and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 39.  Sir Mark Elder would be conducting and Garrick Ohlsson would be the brilliant guest pianist for Rach 3.  Like fourteen year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert, Casey and I sat giddy in our seats, waiting for the downbeat.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra warming up
I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures.  Oh well...
Without giving you a play-by-play review of the concert, the musicians and the performance were great, to put it mildly.  But, if I had to describe how I felt during the performance in one word, it would be awestruck.  Of course, I’ve listened to recordings, but to see a live performance and to fully realize that those are astoundingly phenomenal musicians producing those beautiful, beautiful sounds was incredible.  From the first note, I was mesmerized.  In this day and age, where everyone is consuming mass amounts of electronically enhanced music, listening to something so pure was refreshing.  I’m convinced that listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the closest things to perfect I will ever experience.  Now, mind you, this reflection, per se, of the performance comes from the perspective of someone who has just heard the CSO live for the first time; that is, it was hard for me to be critical despite my musical background.  This literally just occurred to me as I was reading a review of the concert that was not as full of praise as I had expected it to be.  Nonetheless, for someone who is not paid to be a music critic, you could hardly consider it a disappointing performance.  And I do want to say this: If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending a CSO performance, I highly recommend it.  Even if you’re not into the whole classical music thing, I can practically guarantee you won’t be disappointed.  As all of the little banners along Michigan Avenue brag: “World’s best.  Chicago’s own.”

Now, you might be reading this going, That’s nice.  CSO, cool, blah, blah, blah.  But…what does this mean for me?  Well, here’s what it means:
You know that band, or that singer, or that orchestra that you’ve been wanting to go see perform live?  Here’s my advice.  Find tickets and go.  You’ve been putting it off long enough.  You can often find tickets for a lot cheaper than you would expect, and the internet is a splendid place to buy them.  Either way, experiencing your favorite artist live, whether it’s in a crowded pub, from a mosh pit, or seated in a sophisticated concert hall, is special and well worth the money.

“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

Whelp.  There it is:  my first post.  Thank you for taking the time to read!  Do you have any memorable concert experiences you’d like to share?  What was the first concert you went to, or who would you like to see?  Feel free to comment and share!

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Rhythm For Good

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