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Organizing and Creating an Inventory of Your Music Library
By Lea Ann Huegel
12/27/2011 10:25:00 AM  

As a “print specialist” at West Music I see a lot of new books come through and I confess it’s hard to resist adding to my library of music at home. Sometimes when a new book comes in I don’t always remember just how many of those songs I already have. I’ve even had people come in and tell me they have bought the same book two or even three times because they forgot they already had it. Controlling an out of control music library can be a challenge, but the rewarding feeling of knowing what you have and what you don’t is priceless.

The first step to organization is to sort your music. Be honest with yourself and if there’s something you will never play consider donating it. Set music aside that you absolutely feel you must keep but won’t play as it can be stored in boxes. Next sort music by seasons, for example sort out Christmas music. Finally sort what remains by type. This could include methods, religious, popular, rock or country. Storage of music can be done in magazine storage containers or file cabinets. Make sure you leave a little space for new music to be easily added to the collection. Use an easy to read labeling system to label each box, container, or file drawer for quick reference.  Books like to be stored in a dry place and keep in mind over time light from windows and light fixtures will cause fading. Protecting books from bugs, mice and pets is also important.

Create an inventory list of your music saves time finding music. This can be done by category such as holidays, and styles of music. You can further break it down by composers and artist. For small collections consider keeping track in an address book listing books by title. For large collections a database program such as Microsoft Excel can be used. There are premade templates for movies and books that can be modified for music. Consider not only entering book titles but also the song titles in each collection. The advantage of listing music in a database is that it’s easy to search. With a couple of clicks and entering a title, the computer will sort through the entire database to see if that title exists. You can also add website links to the book for further reference. Teachers using a data base such as this may also want to add the cost of the book so that they know what to charge a student in case of loss. Teachers and professional musicians can also keep a copy of the updated data base in a safe location, so that if the library is ever lost, you can have an accessible list to turn into insurance. Don’t forget to remove titles if you remove books from your library. For those that are unfamiliar with using databases on computers you can use your favorite search engine to find a tutorial.

As technology moves forward people will be able to keep their database on a smart phone or tablet computer and then bring them along when shopping for new music. It’s even possible to look a book up on a publisher website and copy and paste the song list from the website into your database, making entry even simpler.

A final tip for organizing and keeping inventory of your music library is to break the project up into small, easy-to-do sections. Tearing a life’s time worth of books out of their hiding spots and dumping them on the dining room table can be overwhelming. Keep the sorting in a room where you can shut the door such as a spare bedroom or work at the project in small sections that can be completed in a day’s time. Most importantly set a goal of what you want to accomplish and when you reach that goal reward yourself. A great reward would be a trip to the music store to pick up that new book you’ve had your eye on. Happy organizing!

Tags: Sheet Music, Sheet Music Guide, Sheet Music Inventory, Inventory Guide, Inventory Care, Organizing Inventory, Music Library, Music Guide, Music Care
Categories: Music, Books & Resources
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Here Come the Summer Weddings!
By Lea Ann Huegel
6/8/2011 11:15:00 AM  

June officially ushers in the summer wedding season. In a perfect world, brides and grooms will have taken the time to find the music for their wedding and obtain all necessary resources for it including print music, instruments, and musicians/vocalists. In the real world, sometimes the all important soundtrack of a wedding is overlooked until the last minute. Between being busy and making multiple decisions, some brides and grooms are at a loss when it comes to selecting music that is appropriate. They often take an “I’ll get to it later” approach, and then run out of time. Here are some basic things to consider when time is short.

Pick the performer then the music
A piece like “You Raise Me up” is a wonderful majestic piece for a wedding, but if your singer has the voice of a country star the music may be difficult for him or her to perform. Similarly, a piano player that plays at an intermediate or easy level may struggle with an advanced version of “Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring.” Asking the performer for suggestions of pieces they have performed in the past is a great place to start and may eliminate the need for tracking down print music. This also takes stress off of the performer if he or she is being asked at the last minute.

Order music
As soon as you know what music you will be using, check with your musician to see if he or she will be finding the music and offer to reimburse them for this purchase. If he or she would prefer you find the music, then contact your music store immediately. Before calling, make sure you have not only the title of the piece, but what instruments it will be performed on. For vocalists it’s best if you can bring them along to see if the music needs to be transposed into his or her range. Allow a minimum of 10 days for most music to be ordered in or check into digital downloads (which can often be transposed if needed). Otherwise, rush shipping may be needed. Please keep in mind that just because you have heard a song on a CD or the radio does not necessarily mean that there is a print copy available for purchase. Having a list of back-ups may be useful.

Check the church/facility policy about music
Some churches have rules as to what type of music can be performed within the church and the ceremony. This is also a great time to ask if the church music director or minister have suggestions as to what music would be appropriate. Check to see if any instruments are allowed or if the instruments must be acoustic. If you plan to use a CD player check to see if they are permitted.

Equipment issues
Be sure to question your performers as to what equipment will be needed. If a piano is needed, make sure it’s in tune. If you are in an outdoor setting, check to see if power outlets will be available for musicians with keyboards or amplifiers. Outdoor settings should also have a plan in place should the weather turn bad to protect delicate instruments. If using an organ, ask the organist if they are comfortable playing on the model of organ that is available.

Tags: wedding music
Categories: Music, Books & Resources
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What Music Means to Me
By Lea Ann Huegel
3/28/2011 3:58:00 PM  

what music means to meThe power of music and its influence on a musician’s life is the study of a new book from Hal Leonard Publishing. What Music Means to Me is full of beautiful photos of assorted musicians and students of music.  Each photo is accompanied by a message of what music means to that musician.  This incredibly inspirational book is the perfect gift for any music educator, allowing them the chance to show the passion of music to their students. A great coffee table book for a piano teacher who has students waiting for lessons or material for the school classroom, this book shows students the power music can have on a person’s life.

Richard Rejino has been involved with the music industry as a business owner and retail manager for over 25 years. With a Bachelors of Music Education degree and a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance, he understands how music can make a positive difference in a person’s life. His hobby of photography has developed a professional quality through his years of practice and attendance at Brookhaven College. He is associated with the Texas Professional Photographer’s Association and the Dallas Professional Photographer’s Association.

With our current situation--where schools and parents are choosing where to invest in students future--this book is an inspiration that shows that music is a driving force in people’s lives. Music provides opportunities for development, expression, and comfort.

What Music Means to Me is available in hardcover or softcover and both come with a companion DVD. For more information on this book or to purchase, please contact your local West Music.

Tags: Richard Rejino, Meaning of Music, Personal Relationship with Music, Relationship with Music, Music Appreciation, Music Books, Music Literature, Books About Music, Books, Book, Music Book, Hal Leonard, Hal Leonard Publishing
Categories: Music, Books & Resources
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Guitar Tab White Pages Play-Along
By Lea Ann Huegel
2/25/2011 2:15:00 PM  

At times, it seems as if books of guitar tab are a dying breed in music stores. With the advent of online tablature, we have seen more and more guitarists turning to their computer to find songs to play. So, when Hal Leonard recently issued a book called “Guitar Tab White Pages Play-Along”, we at West Music were skeptical as to anyone even Guitar Tab White Pages Play-Alongtaking the time to look at this book.

After taking a demo copy for a spin, the guys in our guitar department were hooked! We soon found teachers joining in. With 100 great rock songs, this book literally does rock! Not only is each song written in tab, but chord names, music notation, and lyrics are also included.  Best of all, these are true transcriptions---not just results of someone guessing what the notes are!

This book comes with 6 CD’s that provide great background tracks for guitarists to play along with. The recordings are so fantastic that we can’t stop playing them in the store.  Even without the guitar and vocal tracks in the recording, one can instantly tell what each song is. The CD’s are the best quality we have ever heard come out of a play-along set. Slow-down software is included on the CD’s, which means you can play them on your computer and slow down the tempo for easier learning.  You get 100 songs for $39.99: that’s only .40 a song with a great quality play-along CD and software included! Stop in to your local West Music store today to check out this great book, or visit the following link for a complete listing of the songs in this AWESOME collection.

Tags: guitar tab, guitar music, Guitar Tab White Pages Play-Along
Categories: Guitars & Folk, Music, Books & Resources
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Dance of the Wind Piano Solo by composer Timothy Brown
By Lea Ann Huegel
1/18/2011 1:16:00 PM  

dance of the windOne of the great honors in life is to have a piece of writing dedicated to you. To have a piece of music bearing your name across the top of the page lifts the spirit and somehow in the boldness of print makes you a part of history.

Timothy Brown, composer for FJH Publishing, recently honored the local Northeast Area Music Teachers Association of Iowa with a beautiful piano solo “Dance of the Wind.” Released in the ‘Written for You’ piano solo series, this piece is written at an intermediate level, and offers valuable pedagogical elements including L.H. over R.H. melodic voicing, (where the L.H. plays a quarter-note melody over the R.H. which is playing a sixteenth-note accompaniment.)

This dramatic, yet hauntingly beautiful piece allows the pianist to be expressive and allows the audience to be caught up in the ‘dance’ the music creates. Timothy Brown previewed this piece at a workshop he presented in August 2010 at the Cedar Falls West Music. Several NAMTA members were present and were honored that Timothy Brown had written this for them.

Look for “Dance of the Wind” at your local West Music. The beautiful cover art is of an angel walking in a meadow with her arm around a musician and everything is colored in golden hues. This very fitting cover expresses the tone of the music perfectly. Take a moment to note the dedication at the top of the music, “for the Northeast Area Music Teachers Association of Iowa”. Then enjoy playing the beautiful piece.

The Northeast Area Music Teachers Association is a division of the Iowa Music teachers association to find out more about this organization visit. www.iamta.org

Tags: Dance of the Wind, Timothy Brown, Northeast Area Music Teachers Association of Iowa, piano solo, IAMTA
Categories: Music, Books & Resources
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Your Song Goodbye
By Lea Ann Huegel
1/12/2011 10:42:00 AM  

Celebrating a loved one’s life at their passing is a way to bring closure and healing to the difficult road ahead for those left to carry on. There are many decisions to make when preparing for a funeral and oftentimes we are left with little time to decide on everything from flowers to music. I was honored to play piano and violin for both of my grandmothers’ funerals. For me, it was such a comfort to be able to play their favorite songs for them. I had already added their favorite music to my library as I had played it for them on visits. Many people do not have the chance to know what songs bring joy to their loved ones and if a death is sudden there may not be enough time to track down those songs. These are a few thoughts to remember if you are in the position of selecting music for a memorial service:

Where is the service to be held?

Often funeral homes have sound systems that allow for CD’s or mp3’s to be played. They also seldom have restrictions on music that is played, allowing for choices outside of the sacred category. Country music songs often have lyrics that are comforting. You may even be able to include rock songs from an artist to which your loved one enjoyed listening. Some popular ones include Elvis or the Beatles. Keep in mind if you are using musicians, check with the funeral home to see if they have a piano or organ available.

Churches may have more strict rules as far as what music is performed during the service. Some churches will still approve of some country music and pop music but may not allow rock. They may also insist on having musicians rather than prerecorded music. Selecting a beautiful song but not having a singer that is able to sing in that range may make take away from the moment and cause stress for the singer. Churches do often have the advantage of a piano and organ.  However, keep in mind not all churches maintain their pianos, and the piano may not be in tune.

Graveside services may be the most difficult because of uncertain weather conditions. Guitar is a popular instrument, but may not be very loud. Instruments like violin and trumpet have more volume, but in the case of the violin, you may not want to play it in rain or snow. Also make sure performers who have never performed outside practice before hand.  Preferably have a rehearsal at the cemetery as acoustics outside are so different.  The musician may actually have a hard time hearing themselves or even feel they are playing out of tune. 

How do you want the music played?

Next decide if you would rather use pre-recorded music or musicians, based within the location restrictions, if any. If you choose musicians, then you will need to decide if you would like to have a vocalist, instrumental solo, or congregational music, also based on locations.  If you are hiring musicians, send the music to them as soon as possible to insure that the music will be played well.   

What song?

Now you can move on to song selection. Were there songs that brought comfort to your loved one? If you are not aware of their favorite music then move on to the next of kin. Does the spouse or child of the deceased have a song that reminds them of the loved one? Or brings them comfort? Finally if you are still uncertain, ask the clergy that will be leading the service if they have some suggestions.  Or if you have musicians, ask them what they have that would be appropriate.  If you’re looking for a book to start your music searching, I recently found “Going Home” by Brentwood-Benson.   It contains 75 Songs for Funerals, Memorial Services and Life Celebrations. The entire song list can be found at www.halleonard.com  This collection contains sacred, gospel, country, show-tunes, pop, and more. A great collection of beautiful music for solo piano, voice, and or guitar.

How do I get the music?

If you need music, check with your local music store like West Music for sheet music options. We can often find collections that contain the song in stock or download music. For older music that may be out of print, consider contacting other local church musicians to see if you may borrow from their repertoire. For non-sacred music, a quick trip to the library may help you find older show tunes or community song books.  A final option may be to overnight the music through your local store. Even though there will be extra fees, this may allow you to have the perfect song.  Regarding playing recorded music, if no one owns a copy of the music, check with local stores for CD’s or considering downloading an MP3.

In closing…….

One final thought. If you take the time to plan ahead for your own celebration some day. Leave a clue for your loved ones as to what music brought you comfort. Ordering the music and tucking it away could become a truly great gift for your loved ones as they go through the difficult transition of moving on without you.

Tags: funeral music, music for funerals, selecting songs for a funeral, music for services
Categories: Music, Books & Resources
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Copyrights Are Our Friends
By Lea Ann Huegel
10/26/2010 1:19:00 PM  

So you have probably heard about "Copyright", and you may even know a little bit about it.

Most people know that copyright was designed to protect composers and writers and allow them to earn a living at being creative. Most people are supportive of the copyright laws but may be confused as to what is law and what is myth. Others may feel that copyrights are a nuisance, but often that's because they don't understand them. Before copying any music or requesting permission check out the following websites:

www.copyright.gov - This will get you into the United States Copyright office website.
www.mpa.org - This is the website for the Music Publishers Association and includes information for educators and churches.

These are great resources for finding out more about protecting our nation's composers and writers. You may be surprised how many people you already know that may have pieces under copyright!

For those interested in learning more about performance rights, the following two websites are good.

www.ascap.com - American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers
www.bmi.com - Broadcast Music, Inc.

So go ahead and get informed before you step up to the photo copy machine!

Tags: copyright, copyright resources, what is copyright, MPA, ASCAP, BMI
Categories: Music, Books & Resources
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Are Your Kids Overscheduled?
By Lea Ann Huegel
8/13/2010 3:38:00 PM  

One Saturday as I was getting ready for work, the news ended and a cartoon show I’d never seen came on. It was playing in the background as I struggled to match a skirt to a shirt. Something about the show caught my eye.

The show is called “Willa’s Wildlife” and is a story about a little girl who has several wild animals living in her room because they have followed her home like a stray dogs. These animals vary from elephants to crocodiles. But the story line of this show revolved around the little girl. It was activity sign-up day at school, and little Willa was excited to tell her dad she had joined the dance team. Her dad was excited that she had a new activity and not a new animal. Then she announced that she had also joined the soccer team. Again, the dad didn’t think that bad because it wasn’t a new animal.

Ok, so you’re wondering where, as a musician, I’m going with this, but the next part is what caught my attention. It was only my fear of not making it to work on time that kept me from sitting right down and watching the rest of the show.

Little Willa announces to her dad she has one more great thing to tell him. He’s sure it’s a new animal, but she walks in with a Sousaphone. He’s tickled that it’s not another animal, and she runs off to practice her dance, soccer, and Sousaphone. That’s when things start to get interesting.

She finds she doesn’t have time for her animals because she has to practice all the time. Then she finds she’s having trouble being as good as some of the other students. Finally she has a crisis: the first band concert is the same day as a big soccer game and a dance recital. I had to leave for work just as she was running from event to event with the help of her animals.

A cute cartoon with a very valuable message!

What really held my attention was I could see in Willa many of kids that I have taking lessons in the conservatory. I field phone calls from parents saying little Tommy can’t be at guitar lessons because he has a band concert that night, and they won’t be able to do a make up on Tuesday because there is a ball game, but they would be available from 5:00 to 5:30 on Wednesday between afterschool math club and church night…or Thursday’s not looking good because there’s gymnastics and karate.

I start to wonder when the student has time to eat or sleep. We are starting to hear the term “over programmed” more often in reference to children’s schedules. Often, talented children feel the need to be a part of everything. Sometimes, it becomes a way to fill up time with the feeling that a busy child is a happy child because they can’t possibly be bored. I’ve even seen students enrolled in everything in a parents attempt to make sure that the student doesn’t miss out on the things the parent didn’t get to do.

Whatever the reason, students who are involved in everything often find the same problems as the cartoon character. It’s hard for them to excel at any one thing because they are spread so thin doing everything.

They miss out on key events like games or performances in an attempt to squeeze every minute out of the calendar. Most importantly they lose the downtime. The time they would used to go out and kick a ball around for fun or sit at the piano and play a made-up tune. They even lose the time they would spend playing with pets, reading, or just relaxing. 

Of course kids need structure, and in down time a parent may need to unplug a video game or encourage play time outdoors, but by setting an example parents can achieve this. Playing catch for a half hour or setting down with the student while they play their instrument shows them how important their activities are to you. If you have the ability play a duet with them or sing along you make the time they spend ‘just playing’ both fun and interactive. Soon, you may find that they pick up the instrument on their own to ‘just play’ because it becomes a habit.

I regret not getting to see the end of the cartoon. I feel that Willa would have found that she couldn’t do it all, and I’m curious what activity she chose to stay with. Being a musician, I hope she picked the Sousaphone, but even if she picked soccer, I’m glad she is choosing one thing and doing it well.

Besides, as I remind people, sports can be played more easily when you are young but music is something you can do for a life time. So I know there’s a good chance those soccer players will return to music some day.


Tags: Willa's Wildlife, cartoon, over programmed, overscheduled, children's schedules
Categories: Conservatory
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