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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.

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Extraordinary Associates of the Month November 2016: PASIC Crew
By West Music Company
12/7/2016 3:34:00 PM  
Congratulations to the entire PASIC team for an outstanding job at the show! We had the best customer service team at show, outshining the other exhibitors. Customers noticed and were attracted to our booth, wanting to be able to test, review, and talk to our team about the products they were about to purchase. It was truly an interactive customer experience that everyone appreciated. The proof was in the sales and number of green Percussion Source bags milling around the floor, a whopping 400!

Our PASIC rookies John and Megan went through trial by fire (or should I say drumstick!) They had the hang of it in no time and were helping customers left and right. Megan rocked it by helping folks qualify for our PASIC promotions and John helped us break new ground at Bands of America, reaching even more new faces.

Eric was Master of the Stick Towers, helping find specific models and encourage testing on the snare drums (and moving some too!) Whether it be tambourine, mallet or triangle inquiries, Alex was the man, managing to keep a watchful eye over the booth at all times too! Adam made new friends and was able to connect names with faces of loyal customers who have shopped with us for years. He has quite the following, some customers have photo requests with him!

This PASIC crew was truly awesome. Everyone pitched in where needed as soon as they saw a customer in need. High five to all.

- As told by Lauren Calkin,
Percussion Source
Director of Customer Relations

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Tags: pasic, percussion, crew percussion source
Categories: Drums & Percussion, Extraordinary Associate of the Month
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7 Tips for Practicing over Winter Break
By West Music Company
12/6/2016 7:51:00 AM  
7 Tips to Keep Playing


practice timeYour child just got through their first big concert of the year and is now looking forward to a relaxing winter break. The last thing on their mind is practicing their instrument. As parents, it’s hard to help keep our kids motivated while school is out, but it’s important to remember that even though concert season is over for now, music season is never over!

At West Music we have seen that students who practice their instruments over school breaks, even just for a few minutes every day, retain lessons better and develop new skills quicker. When school gets back in session, students who have practiced are less rusty and more excited to learn.

It’s sometimes hard to find the time to practice or stay motivated during school breaks, but West Music educators have put together this list of their seven best tips to help your child keep playing all winter long!


1. Break practice out into 5-10 minutes.
Finding the time to practice is difficult, especially during the holidays. By breaking up longer practice sessions into short 5 to 10 minute sprints, you and your child will be more likely to find the time to get it done!

2. Set goals.
With each practice session have a specific goal in mind for your child, even if it’s just practicing one or two cords. Setting small goals will add up to huge accomplishments!

practing at home

3. Keep your child’s instrument out (in a safe place).
Ever heard out of sight, out of mind? That’s exactly what happens when you pack up your child’s instrument in its case and put it into the closet. Instead keep it out somewhere out of the way but where your young musician will see it every day.

4. Let your child pick their practice time, and then stick with it.
One of the many skills music teaches children is self-discipline. Let them choose what time they want to practice, but once a time is chosen have them stick to it as best as possible.  Even if they have to miss a practice session or two because of holiday events, it helps build the habit of practicing regularly.

5. Be excited for your child.
If you see practice time as dull, so will your kids. Be in the room when your child practices and encourage them when they feel like giving up. When they do finally master a song, or even just a new note, show genuine pride and excitement in their accomplishments.

6. Game-ify Practice.
Many music teachers suggest making a game out of difficult passages that could otherwise get frustrating. One of the most popular games involves pennies (but M&Ms or Skittles work just as well). Put 3 to 10 pennies on the left side of their music stand. Each time your kids get the passage right, they can move a penny to the right side. Once they get all the pennies to the other side, they can finish practicing and take their reward!

7. Play with the instrument.
You don’t always need to follow the song book.  Encourage your child to make up their own song. It encourages creativity and makes learning more fun!

 

Need more advice? West Music is here for you!

Call our music experts at 1-800-397-9378


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Tags: band, orchestra, students, winter, holidays
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Drums & Percussion, Music Education
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Urbandale December 2016 Musician of the Month: Charlie LaCroix
By West Music Company
12/1/2016 8:32:00 AM  
Charlie LaCroix has been studying piano with Dr. Asia Grant for 2 ½ years. He is a 3rd grader in the West Des Moines community and he is preparing for his first recital in December. Along with playing piano, Charlie’s musical goals include playing percussion in the 5th grade band.

While away from the piano bench, Charlie can be found playing basketball, reading, and writing stories, as well as supporting his sister, Anna, who plays violin. Dr. Grant nominated Charlie for Musician of the Month as “he is exceptionally dedicated and a very quick learner.”

Congratulations, Charlie!

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Tags: piano, lessons, des moines, urbandale, piano gallery, Asia Grant
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Cedar Rapids December 2016 Musician of the Month: Lauren Miller
By West Music Company
12/1/2016 8:26:00 AM  
Lauren is a piano student of Alice Lindsey. Alice nominated Lauren because she says, ”Lauren is a relatively new student but already she is in Lesson 6 of Book One. She practices, brings well prepared lessons, and accomplishes much during the lesson.” 

Lauren is a 5th grader in Cedar Rapids. She loves that you can encourage others with playing music and that it is fun. Her other interests include: gymnastics, volleyball and she also plays the clarinet!

She listens to all different kinds of music and likes them all.

Great job, Lauren! Keep up the good work!

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Tags: piano, lesson, Alice Lindsey, cedar rapids, marion
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Falls December 2016 Musician of the Month: Emma Schaffer
By West Music Company
12/1/2016 8:20:00 AM  
Emma Schaffer is currently a senior in high school. She has been taking piano lessons with Virginia Lee for the past two years. Emma says she plays music because it clears her head and it makes her happy. She plays up to two hours every day because it just makes her feel good!

Emma plays both the piano and guitar, and her goal is to learn the ukulele before high school graduation. Emma also volunteers at Covenant Hospital and is a host at LJ’s. Her favorite musicians are the bands Twenty One Pilots and the Chainsmokers. Something that might surprise others to hear is that she is pretty good at playing by ear and memorizing music compared to reading music. Her advice to other musicians is to practice and find a teacher who motivates you to improve.

Virginia Lee appreciates Emma’s positive personality and constant smile. She is prepared for her lessons so accomplishes quite a lot in a short amount of time. Emma’s motivation and enthusiasm for learning also inspire her as a piano teacher to keep her lessons fresh and new every day.

Way to go, Emma!

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Tags: piano, lessons, Virginia Lee, cedar falls,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Coralville December 2016 Teacher Feature: Caleb Lambert
By West Music Company
12/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
A native of Olympia, Washington trombonist Caleb Lambert began his studies on baritone in the 5th grade and later took up trombone in the 6th grade on the advice of his band teacher.  After moving to Chicago in 2007 Mr. Lambert earned both a bachelor’s degree in trombone performance and a master of music in orchestral studies from Roosevelt University where he studied with Jay Friedman and Peter Ellefson. In addition to his duties as 2nd trombone for Orchestra Iowa, Mr. Lambert is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa where he teaches undergraduate trombone lessons in addition to coaching various brass ensembles. As an active performer he has worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dubuque symphony, South Bend Symphony, Chicago Composer’s Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, New Chicago Brass, Chicago Arts Orchestra, and many others.

Just as comfortable on valves as he is with his slide Mr. Lambert was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2012 Chicago Brass Festival’s Solo Competition on euphonium and can often be seen performing on euphonium and bass trumpet in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. 

As a former member of the Axiom Brass Quintet Mr. Lambert taught classes in chamber music and trombone pedagogue at some of America’s leading music conservatories including the Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Boston University, New England Conservatory, University of the Pacific, Southern Oregon University, University of Las Vegas, Western Illinois University, California State University, Sacramento, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and many more.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Caleb Lambert through December!


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Tags: trombone, baritone, lessons, teacher, coralville, caleb lambert, brass, low brass
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Coralville December 2016 Musician of the Month: Carly Ephraim
By West Music Company
12/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Carly was nominated by her percussion teacher, Brian Cooper. She’s been in lessons with him for approximately 6 months, playing drums and bells. She also plays bass in her school orchestra and studies piano with Jason Sifford in the West Music lessons program. 

Carly is 11 years old and in the 5th grade. She wants to learn to play many instruments! She likes attending concerts, playing songs she knows, and sharing her music with others. Her favorite musicians are Joan Jett, Train, Tom Petty and other rock music. She is also interested in Art, Pokémon cards, hanging out with sisters and friends.

Her teacher, Brian Cooper, has this to say about working with Carly:

"Carly rocks! She's a multi-instrumentalist, also playing piano and bass. In the short time I've known her as a drum student she has shown great dedication and impressive growth as a percussionist with a very bright future. She is as great of a person as she is a musician!" 

Congratulations, Carly!

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Tags: Jason Sifford, percussion, drums, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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10 Holiday Gifts That Your Kids Will Love
By West Music Company
11/14/2016 5:04:00 PM  

With the holidays fast approaching, many parents are thinking about what to give their children. Musical instruments and music themed gifts make wonderful presents for youngsters. Not only is making music fun, it helps develop growing minds! Below are 10 gift ideas, all available at West Music, that your kids will be sure to love.

Over the River with Sleigh Bells Bundle

This classic winter song comes to life in this beautifully illustrated children’s book. Sold in hardcover, so it’s durable for many trips to grandmother’s house. Buy the bundle and receive a set of sleigh bells, so your kids can jingle along with the story.

 

Kala Makala Dolphin Bridge & Shark Bridge Ukuleles

Simply the best entry level ukes on the market! Sound and playability usually suffer at these affordable prices, but not with Kala Makala.  With their brightly colored head and body and a playful dolphin or cool shark cutout at the bridge, these ukes are sure to be a big hit.

West Music carries over 16 different colors, so pick your child’s favorite!

Kala Makala Dolphin Bridge & Shark Bridge Ukuleles

 


Drummer Boy Bundle

In this charming Christmas story a toy drummer boy embarks on a journey on which he plays his drum and warms the hearts of everyone he meets. Richly illustrated by beloved children’s author Loren Long.

The bundle also includes a PlanToys 7" drum and sticks for added fun!

Instruments for Ages 3 and Younger

Shakers, clappers and castanets! These seeming simple instruments help develop sensorimotor skills and hand-eye coordination in babies and toddlers, as well as instill a life-long love of music.

West Music has a full line of instruments and toys for children under 3.

Percussion

Shakers

Castanets

Mini Rainmakers

Our early childhood educators love the Mini Rainmaker for babies and toddlers.  Only 8” tall, the Mini Rainmaker is perfect for small hands.

West Music’s child educator Melissa says, “In teaching early childhood music and movement for over 15 years, I’ve never found an infant or a toddler who wasn’t fascinated by these rainmakers.”

 




Westwood Beginner Guitar Pack

Don’t play Guitar Hero, be a guitar hero! Buy a beginner guitar pack for your child and let them explore the world of music.  Guitars are available in half, three-quarters and full size. The pack also includes My Guitar, multimedia lesson software that teach your child basic chores in a fun and playful way. The pack also includes a gig bag, guitar strap and strap end pin.

½ Size Beginner Guitar Pack  for ages 5-8 or height between 3'10" to 4'5" tall

¾ Size Beginner Guitar Pack for ages 8-12 or height between 4'6" to 4'11" tall

Full Size Guitar Pack  for ages 12 & up or height of 5' or taller



Children’s Literature

The value of children's literature is immeasurable! Not only does reading encourage a vivid imagination, it stimulates the part of the brain that deals with developing language.

West Music carries a full line of music-themed children’s literature that will sure to delight your child as they clap, stomp and sing along with the characters in the books.

Remo Drums

Remo Drums are some of the best on the market. Available in a variety of styles and designs, you are sure to find the right percussion for any age group, from pre-schoolers to adults.







Harmony Traditional Style Soprano Recorders

These bestselling recorders are the perfect way to introduce your child to wind instruments. Available in a variety of bright colors and sold at a great value, these are the perfect gift for children ages eight and up. West Music also sells a variety of music books to help your child master their first song before the New Year!

 




Ornaments

Hanging ornaments is a tradition everyone in the family enjoys. Show your love of music by decorating with these beautiful ornaments available now for the holidays. You will be amazed at their level of detail. For just one example, the piano ornament featured here has a fallboard that actually opens and closes!


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Tags: holiday, christmas, gift guide, shopping, black friday, gift, gifts
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Orff, Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Folk, Kids & Movement, Live Sound & DJ, Music, Books & Resources, Live Sound, Recording & Software
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Cedar Rapids November 2016 Teacher Feature: Ryan Swedean
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 10:00:00 AM  
Ryan Swedean has come to us to teach low brass from South Dakota. He started playing trumpet in 4th grade then switched to baritone. In high school he switched to tuba which he still plays with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. In college he switched to trombone.

Ryan has his degree Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance from the University of South Dakota. He has done graduate work in trombone performance at North Dakota State University. He is working on his Masters of Music in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and hopes to have it complete by August 2016.

Ryan subs in various districts around the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas.

He currently plays with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. Some groups Ryan has performed with in the past include the Beach Boys, Train and other classical and jazz artists.

His hobbies and interests include playing trombone, watching Netflix with his wife, and playing with his dog.

His favorite thing about teaching is seeing a student’s face when they make the real sound of their instrument. One of his most interesting educational experiences has been teaching in one of the poorest counties in the country.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Ryan Swedean through November!


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Categories: West Music Marion
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Quad Cities November 2016 Teacher Feature: Merit Ringberg
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 10:00:00 AM  
Merit Ringberg has been playing saxophone for 34 years and has been teaching private saxophone, clarinet and oboe lessons for 27 years. She graduated with a Music Education degree (BEI) from Augustana College. Merit has played with numerous ensembles at Augustana and has performed on the Paula Sand Life Show multiple times. She previously taught band at Hampton Elementary/Middle School for 2 years. Merit has also been a saxophone judge for IMEA. She has also played with the Quad City Wind Ensemble and currently plays with the Maple City Community Band. Merit has previously taught woodwinds at Augustana College, Griggs Music and now West Music. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her family, going to concerts and reading.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Merit Ringberg through November!


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Tags: quad, lessons, teacher, sax, saxophone, clarinet, oboe
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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The West Music Blog presents articles, press releases and other information of interest to our local and wordwide customers.

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Extraordinary Associates of the Month November 2016: PASIC Crew
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7 Tips for Practicing over Winter Break
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Urbandale December 2016 Musician of the Month: Charlie LaCroix
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Coralville December 2016 Teacher Feature: Caleb Lambert
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Coralville December 2016 Musician of the Month: Carly Ephraim
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10 Holiday Gifts That Your Kids Will Love
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Cedar Rapids November 2016 Teacher Feature: Ryan Swedean
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