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VH1 Save the Music Grant Awarded to Cedar Rapids Schools
By West Music Company
12/14/2017 10:16:00 AM  

CR Franklin Middle with InstrumentsCoralville, IA – December 13, 2017–  Just in time for the holidays, Cedar Rapids (CR) schools were awarded a Fall 2017 VH1 Save the Music Grant. VH1 Save The Music provides brand-new musical instruments to public elementary and middle schools that demonstrate a need for a sustainable instrumental music program.

The center piece of the grant was realized on December 4th when West Music delivered 1 Casio GP500 Grand Hybrid, and 3 Casio WK7600 keyboards to Franklin Middle School.

Thankful for the additions to their music programs, Beth Davies, the Music Curriculum Facilitator for the CR Community School Districts expressed, “We are so grateful to VH1 Save the Music and West Music for the opportunity to apply and receive this grant. Our stage piano has been showing its age for some time now, so the piano and 3 keyboards are coming at a perfect time for our music students here at Franklin. The band, orchestra, and choir programs will all get great use out of the piano for our rehearsals and performances. The keyboards will be used for our choirs and general music classes. We just can’t thank VH1 and West [Music] enough for this great gift.”

West Music, the area’s leading specialty music retailer, was proud to partner with VH1 and Casio to make this incredible opportunity a reality. By supporting the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, West Music furthers its efforts to help kids, schools, and communities realize their full potential through the power of making music. 




Tags: vh1, save the music, cedar rapids, pianos, keyboard, middle school, franklin middle
Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion, Press Releases
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Cedar Falls Teacher Feature: Adam Shea
By West Music Company
12/6/2017 4:16:00 PM  
adam sheaAdam teaches guitar, bass guitar, and ukulele at West Music Cedar Falls' lesson studios. He started playing the guitar at age 14 and continued his education by studying guitar performance at McNally Smith College of Music. He has taught independently for over 2 years and cofounded PrimeTime Guitar Lessons on Youtube. Adam also works as a Combo Sales Associate on our sales floor, meaning he helps customers who have any questions about fretted instruments (guitar, ukulele, banjos, and mandolins) as well as percussion (drum kits, word drums, sticks, and mallets). 

An accomplished musician, Adam has participated in bands that opened for Fair to Midland and Unearth, and also took lessons from one of his personal heroes, Chris Storey, for a couple of years. His hobbies include trying new and interesting foods, studying and writing music, and keeping up with the Chicago Blackhawks and Iowa Hawkeyes.

Adam’s favorite thing about teaching is when he gets to witness the look on a student’s face of relief and accomplishment when they have been stuck on something and it clicks with them.

Learn more about taking lessons with Adam or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or see Adam's webpage and schedule your first class online! 



Tags: adam shea, instructor, guitar, bass, ukulele
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls December 2017 Musician of the Month: Mark Bell
By West Music Company
12/6/2017 3:54:00 PM  
mark bell guitarMark is in 8th grade and currently takes guitar lessons with Nate Dalziel. He has been studying with him for about five years.

His musical goal is to overcome the fear of playing in front of people. He loves that music helps him focus and advises to other students to listen to their teacher so they can learn and grow as a musician.

Mark enjoys playing games with his youth group and said we would be surprised to learn that he is very talkative around family, since he is pretty quiet around other people.

Congratulations, Mark!



Tags: guitar, Nate Dalziel, stage fright, courage
Categories: West Music Cedar Falls
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Coralville December 2017 Musician of the Month: Sofia Steele
By West Music Company
12/6/2017 3:00:00 PM  

sofia steeleSofia has been in voice lessons with Jessica Saunders for 3 years. She is in the 9th grade and also plays clarinet and piano. She is involved in her school show choir and band.

Her teacher has this to say about working with Sofia:

Sofia is an excellent student in every way! She is willing to try many different things in her lessons, including languages, styles, and difficult vocal technique. She asks very insightful questions and has such an inquisitive spirit. It is always a pleasure working with her and I look forward to what we can accomplish together!” — Jessica Saunders

Sofia’s musical goals are to both improve on her current instruments and also to learn to play some new ones! Her advice to other musicians is to “go outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself with some difficult pieces of music. It is an awesome feeling to succeed at something you once found so difficult.”

She loves the feeling of accomplishment that learning a new skill or mastering a new piece gives her, and how fun it is to make music for herself and for others to hear. Sofia also loves to read and write stories, watch movies and listen to music. Her favorite styles of music are pop and alternative, but she “tends to listen to a little bit of everything.” One of the non-musical activities she loves is Kyūdō, Japanese archery, in which she shoots a bow that “is quite a bit taller than me (and I’m 5'10")!”

Congratulations, Sofia!




Tags: voice, Saunders Vocal Studio, clarinet, piano
Categories: West Music Coralville
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Cedar Rapids Teacher Feature: Amy Brandt
By West Music Company
12/6/2017 8:01:00 AM  
Amy teaches violin and viola here at West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion. She started teaching in Denver in 2003 and joined the West Music team in 2004. She has been teaching for over 14 years.

Amy started playing the violin at age 3 and the viola at age 10. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa. She received her Suzuki Pedagogy Certificate from the University of Denver. She studied Carnatio Violin for one semester during study abroad in India in 1998. She has also enjoyed playing in a quartet at the University of Denver.

Amy’s hobbies and interests include selling beaded jewelry at Kalona Junction in Kalona, Iowa. She also enjoys photography, yoga, biking and hiking.

Her favorite thing about teaching Amy says is sharing her love of music with her students.

Learn more about taking lessons with Amy or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or see Amy's webpage and schedule your first class online! 



Tags: Amy brandt, violin, viola, University of iowa, suzuki
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Make Thanksgiving More Fun with Music & Song
By West Music Company
11/20/2017 8:50:00 AM  

Make Thanksgiving More Fun with Music & Song

family thanksgivingFACT #1: Thanksgiving brings whole families together like no other holiday.

FACT #2: Turkeys take a very, very long time to cook. 

Put those facts together, and it’s clear that you’ll need some fun activities to keep the whole family engaged. What better way to promote family harmony than to share great Thanksgiving traditions of music and song?

 

1. Thanksgiving Meal-Themed Instruments, Music and Movement

Rhythm games with drumsticks are perfect for a holiday that is all about a turkey dinner. Kids are always excited to play with percussion instruments, but the fun is doubled when they can make “punny” connections between the music and the upcoming meal.

To ratchet up the rhythmic fun and burn off some pent-up energy, sing some classic oldies that celebrate the elements of the feast and make everyone want to get up and move. Continue the turkey theme with dancing to “Surfin’ Bird,” but don’t forget the side dishes—it’s “Mashed Potato Time,” after all! When everyone needs a breather, the guitar strummer in the house can lead a sing-along of “American Pie.”


2. No Football Game Is Complete Without a Halftime Marching Band!

The backyard touch football game is a Thanksgiving tradition for many families. It is also an opportunity to give aspiring musicians in the family a chance to shine by putting together a “halftime show.” Whether they play instruments like the violin and trumpet or more use simple items like shakers, letting the kids plan and perform a marching band routine during a break in the big game will have them glowing with pride!

 

3. Music the Pilgrims’ Way: The Joy of Rounds

For the most part, Pilgrims favored singing over playing instruments, and they especially loved rounds. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” nicely and humorously connects a Thanksgiving Day sing-along to the story of the Mayflower. If you are feeling competitive and know lots of people, you can try beating the current Guinness World Record for singing a nursery rhyme in a round. The current record was set in 2013 at the Richmond Maritime Festival in Richmond, British Columbia with a group of 180 singers!

4. Fun Family Musical Craft Project: Traditional Wampanoag Water Drum

If there were any musical instruments at the First Thanksgiving, they were most likely brought by Native Americans from the Wampanoag Nation. Learning how to make a version of the traditional Wampanoag water drum is a fascinating group craft activity.

You can find instructional videos online on how to make a water drum. Involve your kids in its construction and playing. Children, both young and old, are enthralled by the way the tone of the drum changes with the water level.

Hear how the traditional Wampanoag water drum sounded.



5. Turkey Trots Through the Years — A Century of Song and Dance!

For musical Thanksgiving family fun, the Turkey Trot reigns supreme. This musical activity has it all—dancing, turkey-themed lyrics to sing together, and the opportunity to click drumsticks in time with a lively rhythm.

There are multiple songs and dances called Turkey Trot. The original dance was developed in the early 1900s to ragtime music. It is a lively, athletic dance similar to the later Charleston, featuring big, bird-like kicks and wing-like arm movements. Composer Joseph M. Daly wrote the piano rag “Turkey Trot” in 1912 at the height of the dance’s popularity. Daly’s infectious, upbeat melody will inspire any young piano players in the house to search music books for ragtime sheet music.

Over five decades later, the Turkey Trot soared in popularity again when Motown’s Little Eva (of “Locomotion” fame) recorded the single, “Let’s Do the Turkey Trot.” Her live performances of the hit featured dancers re-creating the original ragtime dance. The bouncing beat also fit the popular dance styles of the 1960s, ensuring that the Turkey Trot was indeed back and here to stay.

Today, there is yet another Turkey Trot dance, created just for kids and perfect to get them through that last hungry half-hour of torment as irresistible aromas fill the house. It is set to the tune of the Hokey-Pokey, with human body parts replaced by turkey body parts like wings, tail feathers, and of course, drumsticks.

Music Is the Best Reason to be Thankful

Thanksgiving musical activities unite families in a spirit of fun, but they mean so much more than that. The ragtime Turkey Trot can be traced back to the mingling of African and Irish music, and dance traditions in the Piedmont region of the Eastern U.S. The Wampanoag water drum dates back centuries, while the Pilgrims carried the European round singing tradition to America’s shores. Music truly is the universal language that unites us all. That is definitely something to be thankful for, all year round!




Tags: holidays, Thanksgiving, family, fun, early education, music education
Categories: Music Education
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Cedar Falls November 2017 Musician of the Month: Vincent Cotton
By West Music Company
11/6/2017 3:36:00 PM  

vincent cotton recorderVincent is in the 4th grade and plays the piano and recorder. He has been studying with West Music Instructor, Terri Brandt, for two years. Terri nominated Vincent to be Musician of the Month because he works very hard and progresses each week. He has improved with stepping and skipping intervals and is very excited about music.

Vincent plays music for fun and has a goal to learn really hard songs and play in a band with his friends. His advice to other musicians is to believe in yourself and to start with easy tasks, working up to more difficult goals. He loves that music makes him feel like he has a special talent and makes him feel good in general. His all-time favorite piece to play is “Hot Cross Buns”.

Some other hobbies that Vincent has is playing games like Pokémon on his 2DS. Also, you may be surprised to learn that he has been dubbed “the Rhythm King” because he is very good at musical rhythms and counting.

Congratulations, Vincent!




Tags: piano, recorder, terri brandt, lessons, student
Categories: West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Rapids November 2017 Musician of the Month: Matthew Underhill
By West Music Company
11/6/2017 3:27:00 PM  

matthew underhillMatthew is an electric guitar student of Billy Lee Janey. He also plays the clarinet for school. Matthew is in the 6th grade at Taft Middle School. He has been studying with Billy for a little over a year.

Matthew’s musical goals include being able to play in a Christian music band at the church he attends and to be able to write his own music. His advice to other students is to try as hard as you can, practice hard, and never give up. He loves playing music because it is rewarding and fun to do.

His other interests and hobbies include photography and stop motion movie making. He likes dogs and other animals and playing video games. His favorite music is popular and Christian music.

Congratulations, Matthew!




Tags: clarinet, guitar, electric guitar, Billy Lee Janey
Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Coralville November 2017 Musician of the Month: Lydia Evans
By West Music Company
11/6/2017 2:51:00 PM  

lydia evansLydia Evans has studied piano in our West Music Lessons program for 5 years. She began her studies with Alice Golden, and continues with Sarah Beckelheimer. Lydia is in the 4th grade and also plays the violin. She plans to play in her elementary orchestra next year, and currently participates in a community group violin class.

Her teacher has this to say about working with Lydia: “Lydia is a hard worker at piano. She gives a great effort during each lesson and is willing to challenge herself with several songs every week.

She is enjoyable to teach and a sweet girl with a great sense of humor.”

When asked for advice to other musicians, Lydia wisely suggests that you “always practice and you will get better. Listen to different music and try new things.” She loves how different music can put you in different moods. “It’s fun to be creative when making up music!”

Lydia is half Turkish and has been to 13 different countries. Lydia loves art, reading, travelling, plants, and animals. She enjoys her two parakeets! One of her favorite musicians is Sarah Tucker, and her song “Believer.” We’re very proud to work with her in our Lessons program!

Congratulations, Lydia!



Tags: violin, Alice Golden, Sarah Beckelheimer, lessons, student
Categories: West Music Coralville
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West Music’s Music Therapy Program Gives Back to Veteran
By West Music Company
11/6/2017 8:57:00 AM  

West Music’s Music Therapy Program Gives Back to Veteran

harper music therapy ptsdCoralville, IA – November 6, 2017 – KALA radio held a Fourth of July broadcast about Charles Harper, a Vietnam veteran who was invited to their station to transfer his old recordings into a digital format. As a young man, Harper was a proficient musician and received an opportunity to attend Julliard School of Music before he went to war. Upon his return, Harper struggled with rejection, racism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. He turned to music to help pull himself through. The recent KALA special was titled, Healing Harmonies: The Story of Charles Harper and aired July 4th, 2017.

harper with gift piano

In preparation for the special, KALA radio asked West Music's Music Therapy team to contribute insights about the services and benefits music therapy can provide. Kelly Carlson, West Music’s Director of Music Therapy, states, "The properties of music: melody, rhythm, dynamics, and lyrics all come together to help individuals dealing with PTSD relax, improve their self-esteem, provide moments of happiness and allow the individual to express themselves without using words. Often in music therapy, we play instruments so that individuals can express themselves without needing to put words to their feelings."

After the special aired, Harper sat down at a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano in the KALA Studio and his face lit up. He hadn’t played a note since 1992, but the music came right back. After witnessing Harper lost in the music, Johnna Kerres at KALA radio reached out to see if West Music would be willing to gift Harper a keyboard so he could start playing music for himself again. With their focus on playing music for life, West Music jumped at the chance to surprise Harper with his very own Clavinova that came from their Quad Cities store. Upon receiving this gift, he was overcome with happiness and began playing some of his original melodies.

Harper will perform on the piano at a special Veteran’s Day event at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA on November 9th at 6:00 p.m. and the special, Healing Harmonies: The Story of Charles Harper will air again on Friday, November 10th at 8 p.m. on 88.5 FM.

About West Music

West Music is a third-generation, locally-owned, and family-operated business. West Music has been the area’s leading partner specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra, and print music, as well as offering music education, music instruction, instrument repair, and music therapy services. With 7 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.




Tags: music therapy, 4th of july, veterans day, ptsd, piano, clavinova, quad cities
Categories: West Music Quad Cities, Music Therapy, Press Releases
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