Home > The West Music Blog
West Music Blog

Blogs by Kyle Ware

PreSonus Educational Discounts for Educators, Students, and Schools
By Kyle Ware
7/17/2012 1:43:00 PM  

West Music and PreSonus have teamed up to bring you these excellent recording/audio solutions at a special price for educators, students, and schools.

To qualify for this special price, please send your proof of academic status to service@westmusic.com or via fax (888.740.3942). Please include your contact information and order number (if you have already placed an order). All orders will not be shipped until proof has been received.

Examples for proof are:

  • Students: Current class schedule or fee statement (no more than 3 months old)
  • Educators: Recent paycheck stub or official letter from school
  • Schools: Official School Purchase order (if ordering with a PO, this will count. If ordering online or phone, we will need a copy of the PO).

Examples of PreSonus products that qualify:

Click here to find out more about PreSonus Studio One 2.0 Professional!

Tags: PreSonus, PreSonus Promotions, West Music, West Music Promotions
Categories: N/A
Bookmark and Share
Is Your Ukulele Ready for the Summer?
By Kyle Ware
6/2/2011 3:16:00 PM  

Ahh, summertime! All you need to beat the heat is some shorts, flip-flops, and the ukulele. But is your little four-string friend ready? Here is a handy accessory checklist to make sure you won’t skip a beat this summer.

This is a must-have! It’s never fun when a string breaks in the middle of a song, but worst is when there isn’t a spare handy. We carry the top 3 brands of Ukulele Strings to fit your style: Aquila, D’Addario, and Martin. Here is a friendly reminder: remember the size of ukulele you have (Soprano, Concert, Tenor, or Baritone). Although some brands treat certain sizes the same, most strings will not transfer over to the different sizes. Stick with Soprano strings for Soprano ukuleles and etc.

Aquila AQ Ukulele Strings
Available for Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone Ukuleles

  • Quickly becoming the choice of ukulele players worldwide
  • Transform your instrument into a tonal powerhouse
  • Highly polished to a smooth surface

D’Addario J71 Clear Nylon Tenor Ukulele Strings
Inspired and guided by D'Addario artist Jake Shimabukuro

  • Consists of an all-nylon string set
  • Made from an assortment of Pro Arte' classical guitar string gauges
  • Sorted by a sophisticated, computer-controlled, laser machine, which performs diameter/tension measurements and quality checks, ensuring that each set is well-matched, true-sounding and precisely intonated.

Martin M630 Baritone Ukulele Strings
High quality strings for daily use

    • Core and wrap wires meet strict requirements in order to make the grade
    • Wound to precise specifications
    • Designed and manufactured specifically for the baritone ukulele
    • Deliver bright, consistent tone for the entire life of the string

    Just in case you have never changed strings before, here is a great video from Kala that shows you how it is done! Watch the Kala re-stringing demonstration

    Here is another video from Kala that demonstrates how to stretch out your strings to help them stay in tune longer. Watch the Kala string stretching demonstration


    There is a good chance that you and your ukulele will never part this summer. So why not make sure it is protected from accidental falls, bumps, and bruises? There are 3 types of cases available: gig bag, hard foam case, and hardshell cases. Gig bags are perfect for anybody that might not have the money to spend on the hard cases or wants something on the lighter side. The Kala DUB and Lanikai HSS cases will offer excellent protection.

    If you gig or travel often though, we recommend investing in a hard foam or hardshell case. Note: If you travel by air frequently, it is not recommended to check your uke with the rest of your luggage. They are the perfect size for a carry-on and if you get stuck on the tarmac, you can lift everybody’s spirits with some songs! Here some of the popular cases we carry:

    Lanikai Ukulele Gig Bags
    A perfect addition to your Lanikai ukulele

    • Feature a tough Cordura exterior and heavy-duty padding to keep your uke safe and secure
    • Designed to fit Lanikai Ukuleles

    Lanikai Ukulele Poly Foam Cases
    Protect your ukulele with Lanikai's polyfoam case

    • The best of both worlds the protection of a hard case with the versatility of a gigbag
    • Inside storage and large outside pocket are perfect for accessories
    • Shoulder strap included
    • Designed to fit Lanikai Ukuleles

    Kala Deluxe Heavy Padded Ukulele Bag
    Offers major protection for your ukulele

    • Heavy weight material with 20mm padding, reinforced interior, large accessory pocket, and heavy duty zippers
    • Includes adjustable shoulder strap
    • Designed to fit Kala Ukuleles

    Kala Ukulele Hard Foam Case
    Perfect for protecting your ukulele

    • Features a large accessory compartment and 2 backpack-style straps
    • A great way to protect your investment
    • Designed to fit Kala Ukuleles

    Most uke players will use their fingers to strum, but if you need some rest for your digits, try a felt pick. Felt picks won’t abuse your strings as much as a hard pick can and will give a much more pleasant sound. Try this pick on for size:

    Dunlop 8012 Hard Felt Ukulele Picks

    • Package of 12
    • Sold in sets only

    Unfortunately, most ukuleles do not have strap pegs, so using a regular guitar-style strap will be difficult. Unless you take your uke to a nearby luthier to add a peg or two, the options for using a strap becomes limited. However, there is a good option available: a soundhole strap. The downside to this strap is you will have to keep a hand on the uke at all times or else your ukulele will see its life flash before its eyes as it falls to the ground.

    Kala K-STP-BK Ukulele Strap, Black
    For ukuleles with strap buttons

    • Ability to quickly change instruments on the fly - great for gigs!
    • Color: Black

    D'Andrea 1200 Classical Guitar Strap
    For ukuleles without strap buttons

    • Ability to quickly change instruments on the fly - great for gigs!
    • Color: Black

    All of the accessories above won’t mean much if your uke isn’t properly in tune! Although Kala and Lanikai both have electronic tuners, in all reality they are the same tuner, so either one will work fine for you. But if you want to go au natural, why not try a pitch pipe? It’s very affordable and free of batteries! Just remember that the Kala pitch pipe will only work for G-C-E-A tuning (Soprano, Concert and Tenor tuning).

    Lanikai CO-UT Clip-on Ukulele Tuner
    Built by ukulele players, for ukulele players

    • Accuracy you won't believe
    • Incredible stability
    • Complete instructions sheet included

    Kala KC02 Chromatic Clip-On Tuner
    Multi-mode tuner at a great price!

    • Extremely simple to use
    • Choose between chromatic, ukulele C, and ukulele D modes
    • Backlit screen indicates quickly and clearly when instrument is accurately tuned
    • Comes with battery and instruction manual.

    If you have all of these, then you are ready to start playing! Why not check out our selection of ukulele music to learn this summer.

    Ready for a ukulele upgrade? We have an excellent collection of ukuleles that will fit your style and budget! Check out our selection and if you have any questions, we have a ukulele expert on staff!

    Tags: ukulele, ukulele accessories, summer, ukulele strings, ukulele bags, ukulele cases, ukulele picks, ukulele straps
    Categories: Guitars & Folk
    Bookmark and Share
    Understanding FinaleĀ®: A Look at the Family
    By Kyle Ware
    12/7/2010 11:42:00 AM  

    Finale ReaderThis is the newest and cheapest product of Finale® available. How cheap is it? Well, it’s free. However, there is a catch: you cannot compose with it. This software allows you to open, play, and print any Finale family file and MusicXML files. So why would you want this if you cannot compose? Here is a perfect situation: Your school band director uses Finale 2009 to make the new marching band show. Instead of waiting until the end of summer to send everybody music, it’s emailed to you. Using Finale Reader, you can open this file and start practicing! This program can only be downloaded from the Finale® website: www.finalemusic.com/Reader

    Finale NotepadThis software use to be free…well, not anymore. The good news is that it is still a good value for the money. Finale NotePad® allows you to compose on up to 8 staves and will allow you to import MIDI. All programs from here on up will allow you to use a mouse, a computer keyboard, or a MIDI device/keyboard to input notes. Unfortunately, if you use a MIDI device/keyboard, you will only be allowed to input as a Step-Time entry, meaning you can only input notes one at a time (chords are fine). All other software above NotePad® allows for Real-time entry (inputs as you play to a metronome). Sound-wise, this program will give you the typically “old cell-phone sound” that everybody knows and loves. All joking aside, the sounds will not be very realistic, but you can at least hear what you are writing.

    This program is great for somebody who is looking for a very cheap way to input notes. You will be very limited to 8 staves, so if you have any desire for more instruments, take a look at PrintMusic® or higher up. However, if you are just looking at testing the water, this is perfect! Finale NotePad® is still only available through the Finale® website: www.finalemusic.com/notepad . It is available as a download or a CD-ROM (CD-ROM will be more expensive). This product lists at $9.95 for the download and $19.95 for the CD-ROM.

    Finale Song WriterYou have to really dig deep down to find the differences between Finale SongWriter® and NotePad®. You are still limited to 8 staves and everything still sounds the same. A major difference is that if you use a MIDI device/keyboard to input notes, you can use Real-time entry (meaning you can play like normal and the notes will appear on the screen). Also, NotePad® limits you to 1 lyric verse, while SongWriter allows you to write up to 6 lyric verses. Finally, SongWriter allows you to save as an audio file (.mp3, .wav, .aiff), something NotePad® cannot do. Once again, you are still limited on what you can do with this software. If you just want to test the water, this is perfect. If you are looking for something with more power, everything from here on out is up your alley. This is available from West Music. This product lists at $49.95.

    Finale Print MusicFinale PrintMusic® is one of the most popular titles out there and for many reasons. Despite being considered a “watered-down” version of Finale, this program offers the essentials to complete what you want and starts to give it a realistic sound. The number of staves is still limiting (24 staves), but unless you are composing for an entire orchestra or a full instrumental ensemble, you might not need more than 24 staves. PrintMusic® gives you the luxury of the Step-Time and Real-Time entry via MIDI device/keyboard and an unlimited amount of lyric verses to write. But what sets this apart from the rest is that the idea of Extract Parts starts to come in. This is a feature that allows you to extract all of the parts from your score (all 24 staves if you used them) and create individual sheets to print out or edit. Word of advice, if you make an edit in an extracted part or the score after it is extracted, you will have to go and adjust it in all relevant places (Linked parts will come in handy in the Full Finale®).

    Other great features in PrintMusic® are: inclusion of Row-Loff™ Marching Percussion sounds, mixer, and the ability to import/export TIFF files.

    PrintMusic is perfect for anybody who just doesn’t want to make that leap to Allegro® or Finale®, but wants something that will really let them get their hands dirty in notation. PrintMusic is available through West Music. This product lists for $99.95.

    Finale AllegroFinale Allegro® is as close as you can get to the full version of Finale® without it being the full version. The differences between Allegro® and the one below it are fairly drastic. We start to see an unlimited amount of staves to compose on and the ability to use both compound and additive time signatures. You will still be limited on sounds (still will have Row-Loff sounds and general MIDI). In my honest opinion, if you can afford Allegro® save up a little more and purchase the full version of Finale®. Allegro® only becomes useful if you are not a student/educator/church/therapist and cannot get the education discount. Finale Allegro® is available from West Music. This product lists at $199.00.

    Finale LogoNow it’s time for the big daddy of notation software. Finale does it all: unlimited staves and lyric verses, those realistic sounds from Garritan and TapSpace Virtual Drumline, linked parts, the ability to alter almost any engraving detail. Honestly, there is not much you cannot do with Finale®. The only downside is that because there is so much to do in there, it will take a while to figure out how things work. But with a little time and some hard work, you’ll have it practically mastered!

    You will see this title listed as two different things: Finale® Academic and Finale® Retail (or just plain Finale®. These are the same exact products, just one is a price break for students/educators/churches/therapists (with proper documents to satisfy the price requirements) and the other is available for everybody else. Finale typically does come out with a new version every year in the summer (big emphasis on typically), so if you are not able to get the upgraded version, don’t worry. There are still quite a few people who insist on using an older version because they liked it so much.

    Click here for Finale® Academic. This product lists for $350.00.

    Click here for Finale® Retail. This product lists for $600.00.

    One last thing: if you are not sure about which program will work for you, try a demo. All of these available for a limited demo that you can download and play around with. You will not be able to save and you will only be able to print 1 page (it will also include a watermark). Most will work for 30 days. For more information, visit http://www.finalemusic.com/store/demos.aspx.

    If you would like to see more comparisons to the entire Finale® family, click here.

    Tags: Finale Software, Finale Reader, Finale NotePad, Finale Songwriter, Finale PrintMusic, Finale Allegro, Software, Music Software, Sheet Music Software
    Categories: Music, Books & Resources
    Bookmark and Share
    Start the School Year Winner -- Lorrie Davis
    By Kyle Ware
    8/31/2010 10:51:00 AM  

    recorder routes bookHow do YOU start the school year?

    This past August, we asked thousands of you what activities do you use to start the school year? Thank you for all of the terrific responses, but unfortunately, we had to choose just one response for the $50 West Music Gift Certificate. That winner is ...Lorrie Davis from Conroe ISD in Conroe, Texas! See her response below:

    "Happy new school year to my fellow music teachers!

    "Here is a favorite lesson I use at the beginning of the school year with fourth grade, which is the oldest grade in my school.

    "The song is called, 'Down in the Jungle' and it is in the Recorder Routes book by Carole King.

    "The recorder part is easy enough for kids to learn even if they are new to my school and did not play recorders in third grade. The Orff instruments are always a favorite and by the end of the week every student is playing something. We make it a rain forest jungle so we can add the rain stick, thunder tube, frogs, crickets, and chimes and finger cymbals at the end for sunshine.

    "I have a small group of drummers who play the rhythm of the words. If they are real good, we add lightning on Friday (one student blinks on and off the lights during the thunder at the beginning and end of the song). The students get so excited and I tell them 4th grade is my favorite grade because they are so awesome and can do so much. 

    "Later in the year we come back to this song and the kids make up new verses and sound effects (i.e.  "Down by the river living in a cave - better than the city, you don’t have to shave" -- that was written and illustrated by a fourth grade boy).

    "Have a great year!"

    Click to View the Book.

    Tags: West Music Promotion, West Music Start the School Year, Start the School Year
    Categories: Recorders
    Bookmark and Share
    Academic Status for Software Pricing
    By Kyle Ware
    8/18/2010 4:09:00 PM  

    If you are thinking about ordering software and were wondering what the difference is between Academic/Educational pricing and Professional or Retail pricing, you have come to the right place.

    If the software says it is an Academic/Educational version or price, most likely it is the same program that you are looking for, but at a reduced price for educators, students or churches. In order to qualify for this price, you must supply us with proof of your Academic status.  For more information, I have provided a chart of what you need to give us in order for you to purchase this software.

    If the software says it is a Professional or Retail version/price, this is the full price and does not need any qualifications for purchase.  Most of the time this is the same version as the Academic/Educational version.

    I keep saying most of the time, because software is constantly changing and there are titles out there that do have different versions. 

    If you are unsure of what titles this applies to, please give us a call at 1-800-397-9378 or email service@westmusic.com for more information. You will also see a blurb on the product pages here at westmusic.com that will tell you we need proof of Academic status.



    You must be


    You must provide






    College or University  


    Fully accredited, non-profit, with music degree program


    Institutional purchase order or institutional check






    Pre-College K-12


    Fully accredited & non-profit


    Institutional PO or check






    College Student or High School Student


    Currently enrolled as a full time student in a degree program at a college or university as defined above


    A current school photo ID and a current school fee statement






    Music Educator


    Currently teaching at a College/University or pre-college K-12 as described above


    A letter verifying current employment on original school letterhead from the school administration






    Public or Private Music Teacher


    A current member of: MTNA, MENC, or a MENC allied association (listed below)


    Proof of current association membership (current membership card or letter of acceptance)






    Church, Synagogue, Music Minister, or Music Ministry Representative


    Non-profit with a separate house of worship, or currently employed by a church or other religious institution in their music dept.


    Proof of non-profit status and tax exempt number and a letter on official letterhead defining the buyer as the church's official music ministry representative

    MENC Allied Organizations:
    American Choral Directors Assn., American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, American Music Center, American Organists Guild, American String Teachers Assn., Chamber Music America, College Band Directors Assn., National Black Music Caucus, National School Orchestra Assn., International Assn. Of Jazz Educators, Kappa Kappa PSI, Tau Beta Sigma, National Assn. of College Wind & Percussion Instructors, National Assn. of Pastoral Musicians, National Band Assn., Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

    In Canada: Canadian Band Assn., Canadian Music Educators Assn. or their respective Provincial organizations.

    Limits on Purchase

    • Individuals may purchase only one (1) Educational/Academic Edition for their own use
    • Institutions may purchase more than one copy for internal use and may also purchase multi-packs in 5 unit quantities with site license included.
    • This product is intended for the use of the original purchaser only & may not be transferred.

    Tags: software pricing, academic pricing, educational pricing, professional pricing
    Categories: Live Sound, Recording & Software
    Bookmark and Share
    How Do You Start the School Year?
    By Kyle Ware
    7/29/2010 11:08:00 PM  

    For teachers, August means meeting a new group of students. For students, it means seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

    So what better way to get acquainted than some ice breakers?

    We asked a few teachers to tell us how they start their new school year!

    Shelly Smith

    Omaha, Nebraska

    Some of my beginning of year favorites are name games (mostly for me!) I also spend some time reviewing some of the songs I use for substitute plans. (Charlie Over the Ocean, Lucy Lockett, Razzama Tazzama.) A favorite activity for intermediate grades is "Dallas Drums" by Chris Judah Lauder.


    Sarah Fairfield

    Iowa City, Iowa

    In K-1, I love to start the school year with an introduction to using your voice...we practice using singing, speaking, whispering and calling (healthy shouting) voices.  There are lots of fun songs and poems that utilize one or more types of voices

    In grades 5-6, I love to start the year with world music drumming...it is a highly motivating way to review rhythm and steady beat at an age-appropriate level, while developing skills for working together as an ensemble.

    Andrew Ellingsen

    Chaska, Minnesota

    As the school year gets started, I try to have the kids in grades 2-5 play the barred instruments in our first week back.  Giving them a structured opportunity to play them means I have a lot less "wandering hands" as we're doing other activities!

    Jennifer Donovan

    Kansas City, Missouri

    Each year I begin fifth grade with folk dancing. In addition to being a great movement vocabulary review for the children, it aids in reinforcing the music rooms feeling of community and collaboration. 

    Tags: icebreakers, new school year, back to school
    Categories: Classroom Furniture & Equipment
    Bookmark and Share
    Band & Orchestra (99)
    Classroom Furniture & Equipment (11)
    Company Culture (70)
    Conservatory (356)
    Contests (14)
    Drums & Percussion (27)
    Extraordinary Associate of the Month (53)
    Guitars & Folk (36)
    Kids & Movement (25)
    Live Sound, Recording & Software (6)
    Mariachi (11)
    Music Advocacy (57)
    Music, Books & Resources (59)
    Music Education (103)
    Music Therapy (56)
    Orff (15)
    Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards (23)
    Press Releases (19)
    Recorders (16)
    West Music Cedar Falls (74)
    West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion (113)
    West Music Coralville (153)
    West Music Decorah (5)
    West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery (59)
    West Music Dubuque (1)
    West Music Quad Cities (79)
    Recent Posts
    The Basics of Melody
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    The Basics of Rhythm
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Cedar Falls March 2018 Musician of the Month: Bo Wayson
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Coralville March 2018 Musician of the Month: Prabhas Gupta
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Coralville Teacher Feature: Chuck Michaelson
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Cedar Falls February 2018 Musician of the Month: AJ Fitzgerald
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 4 of 6
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Extraordinary Associate of the Month: Patrick Downing
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Be the Ultimate Band or Orchestra Parent in 5 Easy Steps!
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Cedar Rapids January 2018 Musician of the Month: Skylar Dudley
      Comments: 0
      Rating: 0 / 0
    Request a catalog to be delivered to your door
    McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams