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Cedar Falls Teacher Feature: Terri Brandt
By West Music Company
5/1/2018 8:00:00 AM  

Terri Brandt started teaching piano as a senior in college and has taught lessons on and off for 40 years. She currently teaches at West Music in Cedar Falls. The first instrument she learned was piano and started at seven years old.

Terri grew up in Cedar falls and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Education from the University of Northern Iowa, as well as a Masters Degree in Music Education. She has 36 years of continuing education at Iowa State University, Iowa University, Drake, and University of Kansas. She was the Choral director at Lyons Middle school and taught for 32 years at Hoover Middle School, where she was the Choral director and also taught General Classroom music.

In addition, Terri has accompanied for Union High School and East High School. She also accompanied her daughters as they studied violin in the Suzuki program at UNI and volunteered for many years at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Art Center.

Terri enjoys quilting, knitting, and traveling with her husband. They recently returned from a trip to Washington DC where she checked off a bucket list item by observing the Supreme Court.

Some of Terri’s favorite things about teaching are teaching beginners and getting them off to a good start, watching the “light bulb” turn on when objectives are accomplished, and helping students learn to express themselves and learn to be creative. She believes that music is a universal and unique language that takes us to places only music can.

Learn more about taking lessons with Terri or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or learn more at Looking4Lesson.com and schedule your first class online! 



Tags: Terri Brandt, Hoover Middle School, Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Union Community Schools, UNI,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Coralville March 2018 Musician of the Month: Prabhas Gupta
By West Music Company
3/1/2018 6:34:00 AM  
west music piano studentPrabhas is in 2nd grade. He has studied piano with Dorothy Thomas in the West Music Lesson program for over a year, and is making great progress on his instrument!

His teacher has this to say about working with him: "In this year of piano, Prabhas has been able to learn to sight read and does so well on new music. He works at piano daily and is able to learn new songs and concepts weekly. He seems to have extra ability to plan out the playing so he succeeds in good timing." 

Prabhas loves the feelings and emotions you get from music. He wants to be his best in piano playing and he wants to become a composer. His advice to other musicians is to be consistent, a trait he shows wonderfully in his lessons.

His other interests include tennis, basketball, kickball, swimming, and soccer. His favorite musician is Jeffrey Jackson, and he loves the "Creepy Crocodile." He also enjoys apples, oranges, foods with jaggery, and Indian foods.

Congratulations, Prabhas!



Tags: prabhas, dorothy thomas, piano, lessons, coralville
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Coralville Teacher Feature: Chuck Michaelson
By West Music Company
2/27/2018 4:56:00 PM  
chuck michaelsonChuck Michaelson started piano lessons at age five with his father, Samuel Michaelson, who was a private piano instructor and church organist in Minneapolis. Chuck attended Wartburg College and York University in Canada studying with Eugene Hudson and Reginald Godden, respectively. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Wartburg 1977.

He married Barbara Eggers in 1977 and the couple attended the University of Iowa, both studying with Kenneth Amada. Chuck received his MFA degree in 1979. While at the University, he gave a series of performances and workshops throughout Iowa as part of the Arts Outreach program. Chuck has performed in the Cedar Rapids area as a duo piano team (with Julia Titus) accompanying the Theater Cedar Rapids production of “Side by Side by Sondeheim” and as the accompanist for “Nunsense” with the Old Creamery Theater. Chuck has also been in recital at Jacksonville University in Florida and Bethel College in the Twin Cities. Chuck more recently appeared on the college stage at the Iowa City Jazz Fest in 2007. His continuing education has included the jazz combo with Steve Grismore at Iowa and private jazz piano lessons with Steve Shanley.

Chuck teaches musical keyboard and piano to students ages 8 and up. To learn more about taking lessons with Chuck and schedule your first class online visit Looking4Lessons.com, or contact our lessons department at 800-373-2000.



Tags: N/A
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Cedar Falls February 2018 Musician of the Month: AJ Fitzgerald
By West Music Company
2/7/2018 3:32:00 PM  

aj piano studentAJ is in second grade and has been taking piano lessons with Virginia Lee for a year and a half. When nominating AJ for this recognition, Virginia said the following:

"AJ is such a delightful and dedicated pianist who is well prepared for her lessons. AJ’s quiet personality allows her to listen, observe, and retain her musical knowledge throughout the year and apply that to her music. Recently, she performed at [my] piano studio recital. Not only did she memorize her pieces, her stage manner was outstanding. Her parents have also been very dedicated in encouraging her to do so well."

AJ’s musical goals are to also learn the flute and violin. She loves that music is soothing and calming, as well as that it makes her happy. Her favorite musicians are Mozart and Tchaikovsky and her advice to other musicians is to practice. “Practice makes perfect”, she says.

In addition to music, AJ enjoys creative writing and reading. She says that we would be surprised to learn that she wants to be a Doctor of Chemistry when she grows up and that she loves Star Wars!

The West Music Lesson Studio and Mrs. Virginia Lee congratulate you on your achievements, AJ!




Tags: aj, virginia lee, piano, lessons, cedar falls
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Extraordinary Associate of the Month: Patrick Downing
By West Music Company
1/17/2018 3:49:00 PM  

Patrick DowningWhether face to face in the store, out on location, working the phone or feverishly typing on his computer keyboard, Patrick exemplifies true professionalism! He has quickly become the face of West Music Quad Cities piano division and works tirelessly to provide total customer satisfaction in each and every engagement.

Patrick’s vast product knowledge, keyboard talents, procedural proficiency, attention to detail, and “can do” attitude, delivers exceptional customer service in every single customer interaction. He expresses the same commitment from assisting one of his many regional piano teachers in selecting the perfect method book for a new student, to an institutional client selecting their next Yamaha Clavinova or Steinway grand piano!

Patrick has built a large community of piano educators, professional players, institutional leaders, students, parents and inspiring musicians and serves them all with complete integrity! He continuously exemplifies our core values through his advocating of music education, building of meaningful relationships and cultivating community! With an infectious smile, robust laugh, wittiness, charm and charisma, Patrick is quick to unleash one of his many impersonations or share a new joke with his coworkers to lighten their day and instantly put a smile on their face!

In my short tenure of managing the Moline location, it’s become clear to me, Patrick truly loves what he does! He demonstrates it each and every day through his actions, words, encouragement, and commitment to serve the Quad Cities music, music education and business community and well as his alma mater WIU!

As told by Ryan West,
Senior Vice President




Tags: patrick downing, piano, wiu, music education, lessons, quad cities, moline
Categories: West Music Quad Cities, Extraordinary Associate of the Month
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Be the Ultimate Band or Orchestra Parent in 5 Easy Steps!
By West Music Company
1/10/2018 11:38:00 AM  

Be the Ultimate Band or Orchestra Parent in 5 Easy Steps!

 

orchestra recital

No matter the age of your kid, by being engaged in your child’s school music program they are more likely to be engaged themselves. Plus, being involved is a lot of fun! 

For over 75 years, West Music has worked with local communities to bring band and orchestra music into schools. In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what makes a successful school music program and have some tips for parents. Read our fun, foolproof guide to becoming the ultimate band or orchestra parent in 5 easy steps!

 

1. Get Your Child to Places on Time

Unless you son or daughter is old enough to drive, getting them from place to place will mostly fall on you. Being on time to practice sessions and private lessons is important because it gives your young musician as much time with their instructor as possible. If you school program is planning a recital, by attending any meetings or practice sessions you can find out important information about the day the event. For example, you might learn that all the students have been asked to wear black, so you need to do laundry tonight!

2. Be a savvy shopper, avoid big box stores

We don’t have to say them by name, but those national chain stores typically don’t give you the best value for your dollar. The instruments they sell are shiny, colorful, and inexpensive. But remember, you often get what you pay for! Instruments from big box stores are typically manufactured very cheaply and do not conform to any instrument manufacturer’s standards, meaning repairing them is virtually impossible!

Also use caution when buying student instruments online or at garage sales. Again, if the price appears “too good to be true” it probably is just that! Instead, trust a local retailer for your student instruments and supplies. Besides offering you the best quality at the best price, local stores often hire experienced staff that can help you choose director approved items. Also, it’s your local music store that will be doing instrument repairs.

Learn about purchasing or renting a student instrument from West Music.

Learn about West Music’s Repair Shop.

booster club parents3. Join a Booster Club

A booster club is a formal organization of parents, teachers, and others that support a school program. Booster Clubs are important because no one teacher or one school can do it all on their own. For younger grades, teachers need help organizing recitals and field trips. For older grades, there are always fundraising needs, but more on that later!

Ask your student’s music teacher if there’s already a booster club at your school. If not, consider starting one. West Music offers free resources for booster clubs, including the West Music Booster Handbook.

For your free West Music Booster Handbook, please contact us at service@westmusic.com.

4. Volunteer & Fundraise for Your School

If there’s one universal truth about school music programs, it’s that they are always in need of adult volunteers! Volunteers can act as chaperones for field trips or off-campus performances. They also are needed for fundraising.

Why do school music programs need to fundraise? Don’t they have all the money the need? The answer is typically no. Music programs often have additional costs that might not be covered by the school’s budget, such as new instruments or maybe a cart to transport instruments in. Without parent support, schools would never have enough to cover these costs on their own.

musical gifts for parents5. Reward Yourself!

Okay, this one isn’t a requirement, but it’s fun to show off your music parent pride. Find fun and funky accessories such as socks, bags, mugs, and even jewelry to let the whole world know that you’re a dedicated music parent!

West Music has a wide range of music gifts.

 

Related Articles

• How Music Helps Kids Excel at School
• How Parents Can Help their Young Musician
• Practice Tips for Young Musicians
• Why Choose Lesson for Your Child?

 

In closing we want to encourage you to get involved with your child’s school music program. Even if you can’t be president of the booster club, you can still show your support by driving your child to practice. By showing interest in your child’s musical journey, your child feels encouraged to continue to Play now. Play for life.




Tags: booster, have fun, young musician, beginner, advocacy, fundraising
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy
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Cedar Rapids January 2018 Musician of the Month: Skylar Dudley
By West Music Company
1/6/2018 2:16:00 PM  

skylar dudleySkylar has been learning the guitar with Billy Lee Janey for 2 and ½ years and drums with Matt Bernemann for only 3 months! Skylar is in the 9th grade.

Skylar’s musical goal is to release his own E.P. by the end of 9th grade. His advice to other musicians is to look up to anyone who is currently making a living from their artistic work. Some may have had no idea what they were doing at some point.

He loves playing music because it creates a deeper connection and understanding of the subject. Anyone can listen to music and enjoy it but creating and interacting with it is something special.

Skylar participates in “A Few Good Men” which is a select choir at school, the Oakland Church Youth Band and Prairie Point 9th grade Band.

Some of Skylar’s hobbies include playing video games and writing stories. He listens to a variety of alternative music from My Chemical Romance to Dodie Clark to Slipknot and Twenty-One Pilot.

You might be surprised to learn that in 8th grade Skylar stuck a paper clip in an electrical outlet.

Congratulations Skylar!




Tags: guitar, drums, Billy Lee Janey, Matt Bernemann
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids Teacher Feature: Ian Draves
By West Music Company
1/5/2018 3:10:00 PM  

ian dravesIan Draves picked up his first electric bass at the age of ten. Starting middle school Ian took upright bass lessons and played in orchestra and jazz band. In 2007 he continued his education at Washington High School learning from Natalie Brown (Orchestra), Steve Stanley (Band/Jazz Band), and Dr. Gerald Kreutzer (Choir). While taking private lessons from John Hall and Richard Wagor, Ian performed in every ensemble he could get into.

Ian attended Kirkwood Community College and started taking private lessons with Jeanette Welch. During college, he started leading and arranging for his school’s Jazz combo and vocal jazz combo and winning multiple soloist awards at multiple festivals.

Currently, Ian works at West Music as a String Sales Consultant, while managing a local 9-piece Soul/Funk Band Soul Sherpa. Along with these activities, he performs in many musical ensembles in the area: Theater Cedar Rapids Pit Orchestra, Cedar Rapids Big Band, and multiple jazz combos to name a few.

Learn more about taking lessons with Ian or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or learn more at Looking4Lesson.com and schedule your first class online! 




Tags: ian draves, orchestra, bass guitar, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Coralville Teacher Feature: Jessica Saunders
By West Music Company
1/5/2018 2:58:00 PM  

dr jessica sauders vocalDr. Jessica Saunders is a performer, teacher, and director. Jessica has been performing since she was seven and teaching privately since 2007. She is currently an adjunct professor of voice at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City. She has also taught voice major courses at Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa and taught as a TA at the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa.

Jessica is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and is comfortable teaching both classical voice and musical theater styles to students of varying skill levels from ages 8 to adult. Current and past students have performed in Young Footlighters, City Circle, Nolte productions, and have placed in competitions such as the Bill Riley Talent Search and the NATS regional and state auditions. Dr. Saunders’ teaching philosophy is “Building Confidence a one a note at a Time!” She strives to work with each student to explore their individual skills and talents!

PARENT TESTIMONIAL:
My daughter has had a great experience at Saunders Vocal Studios at West Music. Through her sessions with Jessica, she has not only learned about music theory and singing technique, but also how to perform. In turn, my daughter’s confidence in singing and performing has grown. Jessica is both professional and personable, and she individualizes her lessons for each unique student. Her passion for singing is inspiring and contagious.”
— Parent of a 10-year-old

Jessica has performed with City Circle Acting Company, Revival Theatre Company, Druid City Opera Workshop, University of Iowa Opera Theatre, Southeast Iowa Symphony, Wartburg Opera Ensemble, Wartburg Choir, University of Northern Iowa Opera Ensemble, and with Opera Quad Cities. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. She also has a Master’s degree in voice from the University of Northern Iowa, and her Bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College.

Learn more about Saunders Vocal Studios and taking lessons with Jessica.




Tags: jessica saunders, vocal, teacher, instructor, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Cedar Falls January 2018 Musician of the Month: Davis Schmidt
By West Music Company
1/5/2018 2:32:00 PM  

davis pianoDavis is a 7th grader and has been taking piano lessons with Louann Flaherty for 3 years. Her musical goal is to become the best pianist and singer that she can be. She loves that music is relaxing, beautiful, and that she feels accomplished when she perfects a piece.

Her advice to other musicians is to try their hardest, practice, and love music. Her favorite classical composer is Beethoven and she enjoys pop music a lot. As for non-piano activities, Davis enjoys participating in volleyball, piano, and women’s choir. In addition, she enjoys math club, science club, skiing, and hanging out with friends.

We would be surprised to learn that Davis has lived in five different places, which includes Germany for 3 years.


You can take piano lessons at West Music just like Davis! Learn more at pianos.westmusic.com/lessons.




Tags: Louann Flaherty, piano, choir
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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