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

Blogs by West Music Cedar Falls

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Cedar Falls November Teacher Feature: Jim Vaux
By West Music Cedar Falls
11/7/2013 10:29:00 AM  
Jim VauxJim Vaux is the newest addition to the Cedar Falls West Music Conservatory. He teaches all brass instruments and has over 33 years of successful teaching experience. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Arts from the University of Northern Iowa and has taught in the middle and high schools in the area as well as Upper Iowa University.

He enjoys landscaping and lawn care and recently took a trip to New York City. He currently plays in the Waterloo Municipal Band and is a faculty member at Wartburg College.

Welcome to the West Music Conservatory, Jim!

Sign up for lessons with Jim here.


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Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls October 2013 Musician of the Month: Aastha Chandra
By West Music Cedar Falls
9/29/2013 4:21:00 PM  

Aastha ChandraAastha Chandra has been taking piano lessons with Virginia Lee for the past five years.  She is in 9th grade and attends Holmes Junior High School.  Aastha is a well-rounded person and has many musical talents including playing the piano and singing.

Aastha performs in Virginia Lee's studio piano recitals twice each year and has also accompanied during her school's talent show. An active member of many choir groups, she was involved in Opus Honor Choir in 2011 and 2012, Women's Choir and Show Choir at her school. Her current favorite song is "I Need Your Love" by Ed Sheeran.

Aastha also is highly achieved academically. She has made the Honor Roll in both 2011 and 2012, and she was recognized for outstanding achievement from Belin Blank in 2009 and 2011. Additionally, she has been involved in ALPHA since 2009.

Her hobbies include listening to music, Kathak dancing, reading, traveling with her family, attending academic summer camps, and spending time with her friends.

Congratulations on your achievements, Aastha!


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Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls Teacher Feature: Mike Campbell
By West Music Cedar Falls
9/29/2013 2:41:00 PM  

Mike CampbellMike Campbell has been teaching jazz piano, jazz theory, and accordion for four years at West Music. He has a Bachelor of Music from DePaul University in Chicago, IL and took jazz studies from Alan Swain Studios in Evanston, IL.

Mike taught privately for Alan Swain Studios and as an independent teacher. He also taught for the College of DuPage, IL and assisted a few high school jazz piano and jazz ensemble groups in the Chicago area. In addition, he taught jazz basics for NAMTA at the Hearst Center in Cedar Falls and has performed for various civic and church groups.

Mike is an ordained Presbyterian pastor serving in Grundy Center and Reinbeck. He currently plays contemporary Christian duets with his wife, Sheryl, who plays the flute. He also likes to read, bike, travel, and spend time with his grandchildren.

See Mike in action in this demo video!

Contact West Music Cedar Falls at 319-277-1000 to sign up for lessons with Mike!


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Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls Musician of the Month: Halie Frahm
By West Music Cedar Falls
11/27/2012 5:51:00 PM  

Halie is a 5th grader at Cedar Heights Elementary in Cedar Falls. She has been studying with Nathan Dalziel at West Music since August of 2009. She has two cousins that play guitar and inspire her to play.

Halie has worked hard to get all the way through Hal Leonard Guitar Book 1 and is almost done with Hal Leonard Guitar Book 2. She has excelled in note reading, and is playing some jazz standards and Christmas songs, as well as chords and performs frequently for family and friends.

Halie is also involved in dance and takes lessons at the Heinz Academy where she does Modern Jazz and Pom Pom. She has a secret that combines warming up her feet for dance while practicing guitar. When she plays guitar at home her Labrador retriever, Sparky, sits on her feet.


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Cedar Falls Teacher Feature: Rick Oltman
By West Music Cedar Falls
10/30/2012 3:12:00 PM  

Rick has amassed his guitar teaching skills from years of professional playing. He has participated in independent guitar studies and took Jazz Improv courses at UNI to round out his skills.

Rick has performed professionally since 1966 and has over 40 years of experience playing the guitar and bass guitar. “The Nationals,” “The Red Rooster Band,” and “Puddin Truck” are a few of the several local bands with whom he has played. Rick enjoys biking, running, and walking and spending time outside. He has a background in computers and spends time ‘fiddling’ with them to get them to work better. He also plays the trombone and enjoys blues and country music.

Rick recently played a solo acoustic gig at New Aldaya. He is building up his solo repertoire, so he can branch out into some solo playing. Rick has many memorable music memories, but one in particular was in his young days. He was traveling between towns when his car caught on fire. He quickly grabbed his guitar and “tossed it out of the way”. After the fire fighters had the flames out they started to help Rick look for his guitar. In his effort to save his instrument he had tossed it clear over the ditch and fence into a cornfield.

Click here to sign up for lessons with Rick!


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Cedar Falls Musician of the Month: Austin Brase
By West Music Cedar Falls
10/29/2012 3:10:00 PM  

Austin is in 11th grade at the Waverly Shell Rock High School. He works part time with his family business, Brase’s Paracord, where he makes various items out of Parachute chord including survival bracelets. He plays viola, violin, and electric violin/viola and has studied with Louann Flaherty for the past 5 years.

Currently, Austin plays with the Wartburg Chamber Orchestra, the Cedar River String Quartet and is a member of the Trapshooting team at school where he has received a freshman and sophomore letter for section leader. In the past, he has played with several ensembles including Xibus World Orchestra, Ethno Urban Orchestra, Kennedy Orchestra, NEIC (2 years), NIJO (2010), Solo/Ensemble Festival-Highly Superiors (8) and NEISTA (4 years). Austin has played in some wedding quartets and as a duet with his brother, Matt, who plays cello.

Austin owns a 5 string electric Mark Wood Viper and attended Mark Wood’s rock orchestra camp in Kansas City in 2010 where he had the honor of working with Mark Wood himself.

As a musician, Austin plans on being the best he can be and to keep improving on his musical skills. He hopes to help others along the way and may pursue music in college.


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Cedar Falls Musician of the Month: Sarah Canady
By West Music Cedar Falls
9/28/2012 1:04:00 PM  

Sarah is in 9th grade at Holmes Jr. High in Cedar Falls. She has been taking guitar lessons with Brian Elzey at West Music since December of 2007.

Sarah is a very dedicated student. In the past few months she has worked very hard to learn the solos to difficult songs like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, and “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N Roses. Sarah is proof that if a student puts in the time and effort they will be able to achieve their goals. She defiantly has put in the practice time.

Sarah is the daughter of William and Debbie Canady. Her mom and sister are both musicians and play the piano. Sarah enjoys playing basketball in her spare time.


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Cedar Falls Teacher Feature: Brian Elzey
By West Music Cedar Falls
9/27/2012 1:24:00 PM  

Brian Elzey is a guitar, bass and ukulele teacher for beginning to advanced students at West Music Cedar Falls. He's studied guitar through private lessons and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Iowa. He finds inspiration from many musical sources including, rock, blues, jazz, and country. Brian has been teaching at West Music Conservatory since 2006, and prior to teaching here he taught out of his home.

Brian has been performing in bands since 1995. He played in hard rock bands in Kansas City, jazz combos through the University of Iowa, and a blues band and oldies band in central Iowa. Currently Brian plays in Ernest T, a top 40 rock band based out of Waterloo. He has coached and performed with several Weekend Warrior groups. Brian is married with two young boys. He enjoys working out and woodworking. Brian has 2 pet dogs that he likes to take for walks and he and his family enjoy camping.

Brian is comfortable teaching beginning, intermediate, and advanced guitar in all styles as well as theory and composition. He also teaches bass guitar at all levels and is now offering Ukulele lessons. His teaching style consists of an individualized approach, drawing from the student’s musical preferences and goals. Creativity and improvisation are also stressed. He accepts students from age 8 to adult. If a child is under 8 they should consult the studio coordinator first. His missed lesson policy is that there will be no excused absences and no guaranteed make up lessons. If you go on vacation for over two weeks, the fee will be adjusted. If he isn’t at a lesson for any reason, the next month’s fee will be adjusted. 

Click here to sign up for lessons with Brian!


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Categories: Conservatory
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Cedar Falls Teacher Feature: Virginia Lee
By West Music Cedar Falls
8/29/2012 3:36:00 PM  

Virginia Lee was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea.  She began taking piano lessons when she was ten years old.  At that time, she did not have a piano, so she diligently went to her teacher’s house to practice every day until her family purchased one. Virginia completed her B.M. degree in piano performance at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.  She was an active church choir member for many years and soon became the church accompanist and director of the youth choir group.  She also became the accompanist for the Korean-American YM/WCA youth choir group.

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

While Virginia enjoys music of all forms, her favorite composer is Beethoven.  Apart from piano, Virginia enjoys flower gardening, reading, exercising with aerobics, and traveling to experience different cultures.  She lives in Cedar Falls with her husband and has two lovely daughters.

Call 1-800-397-9378 to sign up for lessons with Virginia today!


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Teacher Feature: Louann Flaherty
By West Music Cedar Falls
5/23/2012 11:30:00 AM  

Louann Flaherty teaches violin, viola, cello, and piano at the West Music Cedar Falls Conservatory. She teaches all levels and a variety of styles including classical, fiddle, and sacred music, for ages 3 and up.

Louann has a performance degree in piano and violin from the University of Northern Iowa. She also has a music education degree and is Suzuki certified for 8 out of 10 books. She has been teaching for over 50 years and is a lifetime member of the American and International Suzuki Associations. She's also a church organist for First Presbyterian in Cedar Falls and is in their worship band.

Louann enjoys reading and has an appreciation for nature. She has two dogs, two cats, 7 canaries, and two love birds. This past spring, Louann enjoyed a fishing trip on the ocean with her husband. 

Lessons with Louann cost $23 per weekly half hour lesson.


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