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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.

The West Music Blog

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4/27/2017 4:38:00 PM  
The ukulele is a musical instrument that is full of rich tradition and history. This small string instrument originated in Hawaii in the 19th century and has gained massive popularity ever since. While it is a common choice for students, beginners, and other music enthusiasts, there are also many famous celebrities that love to play the "uke."

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Heritage Influenced His Ukulele Playing

Best known as a former WWE wrestler and current actor, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson grew up in a musical family and has played the ukulele his entire life. He explains that playing the ukulele, singing, and dancing are large parts of his Polynesian culture, and he enjoys sharing them with others. He even goes so far as to sing a song while playing the ukulele in one of his recent movies, proving he can sing, play, and act.

Jason Mraz Island Inspired Ukulele Song

While Jason Mraz didn't learn to play the ukulele until later in his life, that didn't stop the sound and vibe of the instrument from inspiring a lot of his music. One of his most famous songs, "I'm Yours" was written after Mraz had spent a lot of time in Hawaii and Jamaica, both of which influenced the light and airy sound of the song. It is this song, in fact, that has encouraged thousands of others to learn the ukulele, and share their versions online.

Meghan Trainor Writes Songs on The Ukulele

Meghan Trainor skyrocketed up the Billboard charts with her 2014 breakout hit, "All About That Bass." While the song may have a funky and popular sound, she first conceived the tune in an acoustic format, on her ukulele. This was also the way she wrote a single from The Peanuts Movie, titled "Better When I'm Dancin'."

Ryan Gosling Performs the Ukulele Late Night

As if being able to sing, dance, and act weren't enough, add being able to play the ukulele to Ryan Gosling's ever impressive resume. Showing off his ukulele playing talents in a 2010 movie, Blue Valentine, he also recently performed it on late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Taylor Swift Showcases Her Ukulele Skills at Concerts

Yes, even Grammy goddess Taylor Swift plays the ukulele. Taylor Swift began as a country artist and was quickly recognized for her musical talent, being able to not only sing, but also play the piano, banjo, guitar, and ukulele. She has been known to break out the ukulele during concerts, and she has also inspired many renditions from avid ukulele enthusiasts and fans.

Other Celebrities Who Play the Ukulele

Warren Buffett, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler, Eddie Vedder (who released a full album of just ukulele songs in 2011, aptly titled Ukulele Songs), and Bruce Springsteen have all performed on the ukulele. Likewise, George Clooney, Cybill Shepherd, William H. Macy, Adam Sandler, Zoe Deschanel, Pierce Brosnan, James Franco, as well as pop icons Marilyn Monroe (playing onscreen in the 1959 film Some Like It Hot), Shirley Temple, and Elvis Presley all have been known to pick up the "uke." That's just a few celebrities who play, with the list quickly growing each year!

Why the Ukulele?

As you look at just a few of these famous celebrities that play the ukulele, not to mention all the kids, teens, and adults that enjoy it, you may find yourself wondering, "Why the ukulele?" The ukulele has quickly become a top choice for young children and beginning students alike for many reasons. The uke, as its enthusiasts call it, has an interesting sound and is relatively easy to learn. It is also accommodating for all skill levels, as there are different types of ukuleles as well as many styles of music that can be learned. The ukulele is lightweight, compact and portable while not taking up very much space. These features make it an ideal instrument for school-aged children transporting the instrument from home to school, for people who don't have a lot of extra space, or someone who likes to be able to easily take their instrument with them wherever they go. Although you may not be a celebrity, you can still play like one when you have the correct instrument. West Music has a great assortment of ukuleles, for beginners all the way to performing professionals, in a range of colors to fit your taste, plus method and song books. Check out our large selection today!

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4/13/2017 3:50:00 PM  
baby having music funWhile hearing music is enjoyable in its own right, the benefits of taking part in it highly outweigh those of just listening. Musical education during childhood can positively impact cognitive development, improve social skills, and increase academic achievement. And you don’t have to wait until your child is older — music education has been shown to have positive effects on babies and toddlers!
 

West Music’s History of Supporting Music Education

Since opening our doors in 1941, West Music has strongly supported music education. In fact, our founder Pearl West taught in the music department at Iowa City High School. Today we work directly with thousands of school music programs across the county and support many more with charitable donations through our membership with NAMM (The National Association of Music Merchants). In our stores, we offer Early Childhood Education for children as young as three-months. Supporting music education is an integral part of our mission to “Play now. Play for life.”

 

Music and the Brain

Being exposed to music throughout childhood has profound impacts on the development of the growing brain. A 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute found that musical experiences during these crucial years accelerates brain development, especially in the areas of reading skills and language acquisition. It has also been found that learning how to play an instrument can improve mathematical intelligence and even boost academic achievement.

 

Music Education Benefits for Infants (birth up to age 1)

Recent research has found that babies benefit from music education long before they can even walk or talk. One study found that one-year-olds who participated in interactive music classes with their parents smiled more, communicated better, and showed more sophisticated brain responses to music.

An excellent way to incorporate music and movement with infants is through soft and colorful scarves. You can manipulate these in the air while singing soft lullabies and nursery rhymes. They are also great for sensory play, so be sure to let your infant feel the softness of the scarf on their hands and feet. While your baby might want to hold onto them forever, please note that movement props are not toys’ they are to be used under adult supervision.

 

Music and Movement for Toddlers (ages 1-3)

One of the biggest benefits of having toddlers engage with music is in language development. Recent studies have found that musical training can wire the circuits of the brain in different ways. This development is specifically seen in parts of the left side of the brain, which contributes to processing language.

The key to music with toddlers is repetition. Children at this age crave consistency and routine, which is why they love reading the same books and listening to the same songs over and over. Repeating songs together promotes memorization and helps them to predict what comes next. Sound Exploration Books are a perfect fit for this age!

Toddlers also love being able to move and dance to the beat, so encourage them to explore with using instruments. Instruments specifically designed for small hands, such as toddler shaker instruments, are the perfect way to introduce them to creating and playing music.

 

Early Childhood Music Education for Preschoolers

Researchers in the field of brain development are quick to point out that the brain of a musician is wired differently than that of a non-musician, even a very young one. Preschoolers who were involved in making music showed larger brain growth in neural activity, so, simply put, being a musician makes your brain work harder.

Preschoolers love to sing and let their voices be heard. They enjoy nursery rhymes about familiar things, and they like songs that have repeating words and melodies.  Plays using puppets are great fun for this age, and learning rhymes together is the perfect musical actives for preschoolers and their parents!

 

Child Recorder Music

Music Learning for School-Aged Children

A study published in 2007 at the University of Kansas reported that students in schools with superior music programs scored approximately 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math on standardized tests. This reveals how music impacts many aspects of a child’s life and how vital it is to school performance.

Elementary school may be the first time some children really begin to have an interest in taking music lessons for a specific instrument. Many school music programs start with a musical recorder. Lightweight, simple, and capable of producing a charming sound, recorders are an ideal pre-band instrument to lead children into a lifetime of music-making.

 

Let Our Music Experts Help!

There are many things you can do as a parent to cultivate and grow a passion for music in your child, no matter their age. Remember, it’s never too early, or too late, to enjoy the benefits of music! Shop online or contact West Music at 800-397-3978 for suggestions and assistance.


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4/6/2017 1:34:00 PM  

Whether you are starting to think about taking piano lessons, have been playing for a few years, or are an expert pianist, having the proper piano that suits your needs is vital. With all of the options that are available, it can be challenging to find the right instrument for your level and your budget. Let us help guide you in finding a piano that fits your needs.


Vertical Pianos

vertical piano

A very common type of piano for the home or studio is the vertical piano. They are called vertical pianos, because of their vertical strings, and are particularly known for their height, which ranges from three to five feet. Due to their cost effectiveness and space efficiency (they typically are no wider than 5’), verticals are a popular choice for homes, churches, schools and music studios.

Common Types of Vertical Pianos Are:

  • Spinet – 36” to 40” in height
  • Console – 40” to 43” in height
  • Studio – 44” to 48” in height
  • Upright – 45” and above

The larger piano, the larger soundboard, and it’s the soundboard that create tone quality. Therefore, Console and Studio pianos are the most common types of pianos found in homes. They are extremely durable so they can be a good choice around children.

Rarely manufactured today,  upright pianos are the tallest of the vertical pianos, with a typical height ranging from four to five feet tall. This piano was very popular at the turn of the century and is what you usually see in older homes and long lineages of families.

 

Grand Pianos

grand piano

Horizontal pianos also referred to as grand pianos. They got their name because of their large size and the fact that their strings are placed horizontally. Grand pianos range in size from four feet long all the way up to nine feet long and produce a very fine tone. Many professional pianists or performers enjoy them for their responsive key action and their spectacular sound.

There Are Six Kinds of Grand Pianos:

  • Petite Grand – under 5’ in length
  • Baby Grand – 5’ to 5’5” in length
  • Medium Grand – 5’ 6” to 5’ 9” in length
  • Parlor / Living Grand – 5’ 10” to 6’ 9” in length
  • Semi-Concert / Ballroom Grand – 6’ 10” to 7’ 10” in length
  • Concert Grand - 8’ 11” and longer

If you are looking for a grand piano for your home, a popular choice is the baby grand. These pianos have amazing sound quality, are extremely aesthetically pleasing, and don't take up a ton of space. Some baby grands are meticulously hand-crafted and can take up to 12 months to produce. They are also affordable but still have the rich sound you want from a grand piano.

 

Digital Pianos

digital

A compact and cost-efficient type of piano is the digital piano. Digital pianos have only been around for the past 30 years or so, but they have come a long way from when they were first introduced. Today, they have excellent sound and can even have gravity-based, spring-free action to feel like a grand piano.

Digital pianos are very versatile and can be a good choice for beginners or professionals. They cost less, weigh less, and do not have to be tuned. They also can be plugged into headphones, which can be very convenient in small houses or apartments.

 

Contact West Music Piano Division

Whether you are just starting to learn how to play the piano, or have been performing for years, having the correct type of piano that fits your needs can make all the difference in playing. Choosing the right piano is a complex and important decision that should not be rushed.

Feel free to stop by your local West Music store to test out your options personally. We offer a wide variety of pianos - vertical, grand, digital, and even used models - and have knowledgeable and helpful piano associates to assist you. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to see all our different available models, please call West Music at 800-373-2000 or head to our piano website at pianos.westmusic.com.

 


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3/29/2017 1:17:00 PM  

Lucas ClarkLucas Clark is in the 3rd grade in West Des Moines. He has studied guitar with Mark Willie for six months. Mark Willie believes Lucas deserves recognition because “Lucas has consistently shown hard work and dedication since day one. He always comes into lessons prepared and can demonstrate his knowledge of the material. His talent and ambition combined leave no doubt that he has great potential to go far in music.” Lucas’ main musical goal is to master his instrument. His advice to other musicians: “Always try your hardest and never give up. Be prepared. Practice and listen!”

Lucas loves learning new songs and new chords. He enjoys performing songs for people and loves playing with his family. His dad plays multiple instruments and his sister sings and is a great jazz drummer. Sometimes Lucas performs songs for his class. Last year he played The Ventures “Walk Don’t Run” for a crowd at a ski resort. One of Lucas’ favorite music genres to play is surf rock, but he’s a fan of different types of music including: The Strokes, Bon Jovi, The Beach Boys, and The Ventures.

Lucas’ other interests include playing lots of sports. He loves soccer, tennis, and golf. He enjoys snowboarding while in the mountains, and at home he loves playing with his dogs and being outside.

One surprising fact is that Lucas’ great-grandfather was best friends with Lawrence Welk, and played with him before he became famous. Lawrence even asked his great-grandfather to go on the road with him, but had to turn him down. That’s awesome! Congrats, Lucas! 


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3/29/2017 1:16:00 PM  
Isaac musician of the month

Isaac is a brass instrument student of Matt Driscoll here at the West Music Cedar Rapids. He currently plays trumpet and tuba but has recently begun piano lessons. Isaac is in 10th grade and is homeschooled. He has studied music with his teach Matt Driscoll for five years!

Isaac participates in the Marion Homeschool Assistance program concert and symphonic bands. His musical goal is to play in band at college and possibly after graduation. His advice to other musicians is to, “work hard, but have fun playing music.”

Some of Isaac’s other interests include: robotics and cyber defense with Cedar Rapids Area Homeschools IT club, karate, and golf. His favorite kinds of music include classical, Sousa marches, and movie themes.

You may be surprised to learn that Isaac does NOT like modern music.

Congratulations Isaac! 


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3/14/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Think of a West Music associate who creates lasting customer relationships, is always ready to help fellow associates in need of support, and consistently offers valuable product knowledge. Does the name John Williams come to mind?

John always has a “can do” attitude! He does a fantastic job addressing all customer questions and will find a path through any obstacle that may prevent them from achieving their musical needs and desires.

John is eager to offer support to our associates and will do everything possible to help them be successful within their West Music careers. Prior to my tenure at West Music, I personally had the opportunity to work with John Williams in a sales setting. John’s relaxed sales approach, vast product knowledge, and great sense of humor made it extremely easy for me to ask, “why would I not buy this?!”

A customer recently commented “He set aside some parts that came into the West Music Cedar Rapids store for me that I found out are no longer made, but fit my very old Clavinova perfectly!” This is just one of many examples of John’s commitment to customer service.

John’s leadership and customer focus are just a few of his strengths. He is an inspiration for all of us here at West Music!

Congratulations, John, and thanks for all you do!

As told by Jim Midcalf,
Director of Regional Sales

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3/7/2017 8:46:00 AM  

Have you ever played an acoustic concert grand piano with no strings? Or perhaps you've played a digital piano with a full acoustic piano action? Chances are, neither of these things have ever happened to you, but Yamaha has the perfect instruments for those who crave the realism of an acoustic piano, along with the benefits of a digital.

The Yamaha AvantGrand and Hybrid pianos offer the perfect balance of playing both an acoustic grand piano and a digital piano. These pianos are the only non-acoustic instruments in the world that employ real acoustic actions. These specially-designed piano actions allow for a more responsive playing experience than that of a digital piano, and replicate the touch and feel of an acoustic piano without the cost or maintenance of tuning, regulations, and voicing.

Join us for Musical Mornings on St. Patrick's Day, Friday March 17th, at 9am at West Music Quad Cities in Moline. West Music's Certified Piano Consultant Patrick Downing will lead a presentation all about the incredible technology and features of the Yamaha Hybrid pianos. See how these instruments truly are everything you need from a digital, and everything you want from an acoustic!

Who? Piano players and enthusiasts
What?
Yamaha Hybrid Pianos Presentation
When? St. Patrick's Day Morning - Friday, March 17th at 9am
Where? West Music Quad Cities
Why? This is your chance to experience Yamaha Hybrid pianos! Discover the perfect balance of acoustic and digital performance.

Yamaha Hybrid Piano

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3/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Mitchell Logan is a 4th grader within the West Des Moines School District. He has been a piano student at West Music studying under Janet Winship for 2 years. Along with the piano, Mitchell plays the recorder, as well as the viola in the West Des Moines beginning orchestra program.

Janet Winship believes Mitchell deserves recognition because “Mitchell is an active participant in class and highly motivated. He pays attention to the details and memorizes his music quickly and carefully. Time flies in class and always makes us wish we had more time to play piano.” Mitchell loves playing music because “It’s very satisfying to learn a new song and completely get it.” One of his musical goals is to become a better viola and recorder player.

While away from the piano bench, Mitchell participates in Taekwondo Team JETT and an awesome light saber club! Some of his other interests include playing with nerf guns, LEGOs, and traveling. Mitchell’s favorite musician is Lindsey Stirling who is known for her Dubstep violin original song “Crystallize”. One surprising fact we learned about Mitchell is that he had surgery on his stomach when he was a baby. Whoa!

Congrats, Mitchell!!

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3/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Dog Music Note DrawingJosie Fullenkamp is 10 years old and has been taking violin lessons with Gayla Drake at West Music Coralville for almost three years. She plays in the school orchestra, also plays flute in her school band and loves all music!

Her teacher has this to say about Josie:

Josie is a very inspiring person to work with. She loves the violin so much that she once said, upon entering the String Shop, "Ahh, the smell of my people!" She has really helped to shape my studio into a community through her introduction of Notey the Naughty Dog cartoon and fan club. I feel so lucky to spend time with her every week.

Josie’s musical goal is to play the violin fast and with fluency.  She loves music because of “the vibe and how you react. It is like the wind is music and you are a willow tree.” Her advice to other musicians is to never stop doing what you love most. Her favorite music is from Les Misérables, Hamilton, Lindsey Sterling plus other pop, classics and hip hop hits. 

A busy 5th grader - Josie also enjoys skiing, drawing, dancing, kickball and reading “The Warrior” series. She is a fan of wolves (and huskies), mountains and loves spending time with friends and family (including her dog, Jake). She often draws her cartoon characters and music lessons on the studio white-board at lessons. “I enjoy drawing the musical sensation of West Music, Notey the Dog!”

Great job, Josie!

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2/10/2017 9:48:00 AM  

Caring for your string instrument isn’t hard if you understand a few basics! Read what our orchestra instrument experts have to say, or download this handy PDF.

String Care Tips

Remember that your instrument is made of wood and can easily be damaged if not handled with care. Bumping the instrument against another object may damage the wood, cause the bridge to slide out of alignment, or cause the sound post (found inside instrument) to fall down. Bridges and sound posts are not glued in place, but are held by the pressure of the strings, which allows them to be replaced and adjusted as needed. If an accident should happen, bring your instrument to a West Music Repair Shop for service.

The Fittings

Pegs may stick in humid weather and not hold well in dry conditions. Pegs that won’t hold may need to be pushed in gently while tuning
it to the proper pitch. Pegs may slightly back out and loosen if turned without applying this gentle inward pressure.

The Chinrest

Changes in humidity may cause shrinking and swelling of the instrument and may cause the chinrest to become loose. In this event, please take care to tighten the arms of the chinrest in a clockwise motion, to secure the chinrest tighter to the instrument. A little goes a long way, only tighten enough to reduce movement.

Tailpiece/Fine Tuners

Check the fine tuners very closely to ensure there is plenty of screw space height to adjust the pitch. Be aware that the tuning arms located behind the tailpiece are not pushing into the top of your instrument. The tailpiece’s tail gut or wrap should be centered and fastened very securely to the end-pin or end-button of your instrument.

Fingerboard

During play, rosin can make its way onto your fingerboard as well as your instruments top. After each practice session, take care to wipe down the fingerboard and strings to remove rosin and dust to prolong the life of your strings.

The Wood

Wood may expand in humid weather and contract as it dries which can affect how your instrument functions. Do not leave your instrument in a car during extreme hot or cold weather as this can damage the instrument and the finish.

The Case

Don’t try to force the case lid shut!Most instrument cases are only large enough to hold the instrument, bow, rosin, and small accessories such as a mute or pitch pipe. Only store objects such as pens and pencil in the accessory compartment of your case, otherwise they may damage the instrument when the case is closed. Shoulder rests are best carried separately unless there is ample room in the case or the case has a compartment to hold it. Papers or music stored in the case may squeeze against the instrument causing the bridge to break or the instrument to crack.

The Bow

Rosin is applied to the bow hair to create friction on the strings and make them vibrate. The bow hair should not be touched because rosin will not stick if oils from your skin get on the bow. Not getting enough rosin on the bow will result in faint and squeaky sounds. If too much rosin is used it will come off the bow and stick to the instrument. Wipe excess rosin off the instrument with a soft cloth.

When putting the bow away, loosen the hair a little so it is not as tight as when you are playing. Leave slight tension to help keep the hair from getting caught on something, but not warp the bow. Cleaning your hands before and after use will help the bow hair last longer.

The Strings

Every time you play and sometimes in the middle of practices and performances your instrument may need to be tuned. Over time the strings will stretch, wear out, and
sometimes break. Strings have a limited lifespan and need to be replaced when they get frayed, damaged, corroded, or have lost their tone. Replace with the same brand for consistent sound. Keeping your hands clean before and during use will help the strings last.

If you should notice a problem with your instrument, bring it in as soon as possible to be serviced. Repairs to string instruments can take just a few minutes, several hours or sometimes several weeks, so don’t wait until it is too late! Contact your local West Music store to schedule a repair or complete our online Instrument Repair Form.


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2/10/2017 9:14:00 AM  
Jeremy JacobsWest Music is proud to introduce its newest luthier, Jeremy Jacobs!  Jeremy has set up shop at West Music Cedar Rapids and has already gotten to work fixing guitars and other stringed instruments from around the community. Along with Bruce Vanderschel and Kevin Halbrooks in Coralville and Tony Carducci in Quad Cities, Jeremy is a key player in our fretted instrument repair team!

Jeremy is a Marion, IA native who describes music as his passion.  He has been fixing guitars since his days at Linn-Mar High School, and kicked off his professional career almost a decade ago as a guitar repair tech at Guitar Center. He is Expert Level Certified in many types of fretted instrument repair including restrings/setups, basic and advanced wiring, structural repair, and fret work.  While Jeremy will admit the guitar is his favorite instrument (he owns several Les Pauls, Explorers and Flying Vs), he can repair or setup almost anything with strings, including orchestral instruments such as violins and cellos. 


Jeremys GuitarsJeremy is also a professional musician in his own right. He has performed on electric guitar alongside some of the greatest musicians in the Cedar Rapids area and has recorded with several local bands. The two main guitars he uses on stage are ones he built himself! He started off with just a blank body and neck, and assembled them using spare parts he was able to find. He even drew his own designs on them using a Sharpie.
When asked what made him excited about being at West Music, he answered getting to be on the same team as people like Bruce, Kevin and Tony. Bruce is known for his incredible ability to fix and refinish older, more delicate guitars, and Kevin and Tony have both created one-of-kind instruments for professional musicians.

Jeremy gives the following instrument care tips to any string player out there. First, it’s important to humidify your stringed instrument in dry weather.  Second, if you are bringing your instrument in from the cold, let it warm up before playing.  Finally, bring your guitar and other stringed instruments to him for regular maintenance!

If you’re interested in getting your strings fixed by Jeremy or any of our luthiers, please give us a call or complete our Fetted Instrument Repair Form.


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2/7/2017 8:32:00 AM  

Piano maintenance advice and tips by Nelda Wittig, West Music Piano Consultant.

Piano Care

You may have just made an investment in a piano or you have had one for years. Learn how to properly maintain your piano in the Midwest where temperatures dip and humidy is difficult to keep level. Since 85% of a piano is made of wood, it is important that your piano keeps a consistent humidity level between 40-50%. Just like a living tree that responds to the environment, the wood in your piano will respond to the ever changing environment in your home.

When the humidity inside your home drops below the ideal of 40-50% humidity, you may notice some changes in the piano—some minor; some costly.

Wooden action parts shrink when they become too dry, and they become loose and start to rattle and make noise.  This puts early wear on your action and repairs in your future!

Cracks may appear in the soundboard (the heart of a piano), or on the bridges, or in the pin block.  Any of these cracks can be a costly fix.

Pitch and tone will fluctuate with the dry environment. 

What’s the solution? A humidifier system can be installed in your upright or grand piano and will keep the soundboard area constant. We suggest installing a dual system which will remove excess moisture in the air and will also add moisture if needed. You may want to also purchase a hygrometer to keep in or nearby your piano to have a continuous readout of humidity. Your piano will thank you!

Our experts at West Music are available to install a humidifier system into almost any piano, or answer any you might have about the care of your instrument. Contact your local West Music store for more information.

Learn more about West Music's piano galleries and services: pianos.westmusic.com


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2/3/2017 4:15:00 PM  
Whether on the phone, electronically, or face-to-face, Shivhan provides EXCEPTIONAL customer service to flutists everywhere. Her product knowledge, skill as a professional player, and experience contribute to her amazing ability to turn customers’ words about what they are looking for into a tangible item. Want a dark sound with chocolaty harmonics, substantial resistance, flexibility, and a fluid mechanism? Poof! Shivhan has the perfect flute for you.

We frequently hear how much customers and our dealers appreciate her thoroughness and care. Those of us who have the privilege of working with her feel the same way. Not only does Shivhan do a great job of serving each and every customer, but she backs this up with a high level of attention to detail. She has most of our inventory serial numbers memorized to the point where we are considering renaming her Shivision. Ok, I might be going too far with the nickname, but it’s true that she memorizes serial numbers! Quiz her sometime and prepare to be amazed.

Shivhan loves what she does, which is clearly demonstrated through her actions. Thanks for your positivity, your enthusiasm, and your commitment to bringing your A-game every day, Shivhan!

Congratulations, Shivhan, and thanks for all you do!

As told by Cathy Miller,
Vice President

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1/18/2017 9:43:00 AM  
We are happy to announce Chris Eck as the West Music December 2016 Associate of the Month!

Chris is being recognized for his passionate pursuit of all of West Music’s education efforts that reflect our mission to help customers play now and play for life. In the past year, Chris has led West Music’s Lesson Program to add new team members and teachers, create and refine curriculums for our group lessons and classes, and managed to teach his own lessons and classes as well! He does all this with focus, quiet encouragement and support, and active collaboration with many team members in the company and our larger musical community.

But don’t just take my word for it, other West Music associates notice Chris’s great ability to play well with others too!

“Chris is an amazing asset to West Music…It seems Chris has built meaningful relationships with every person he has been in contact with, sharing his undivided attention and care to meet their needs.”

“My mother came to town around Thanksgiving and I surprised her with her very own ukulele. I had mentioned to Chris that I had bought her a uke and he offered to give her a free lesson while she was in town. She loved every minute! She’s never played a instrument in her entire life. She’s still talking about it and she practices everyday. Thank you Chris for making her feel special and proving that you can learn an instrument at any age!”

“Chris does such a great job coordinating the Lesson Program and working with the Studio Coordinators. He is always so willing to go out of his way to help anybody in any way he can.”

- As told by Ryan West,
Senior Vice President

Congratulations Chris! Keep up the good work and thank you for making our mission a reality every day!

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1/2/2017 3:17:00 PM  

Morgan Sullivan has studied piano with teacher Emily Walter for 1 year. Morgan is a 4th grader within the Johnston community who loves learning new things every day and sets goals to play challenging songs on the piano.

Some of Morgan’s other artistic interests involve playing the recorder, dancing, singing, and writing. Her favorite musician is Taylor Swift and she loves listening to pop music. Morgan also participates in gymnastics and soccer. Fun facts about Morgan: She was born in Milwaukee and she is left-handed.

Emily Walter referred Morgan for Musician of the Month because “Morgan always comes to her piano lesson prepared and with a great attitude! She is a hard worker and is wonderful at taking risks to learn new songs.” Morgan’s advice to other musicians: “Be patient because you need to learn the easy songs before you play the harder songs.”

Good advice, Morgan! Congratulations!


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1/2/2017 3:09:00 PM  
Ian Wolverton-Weiss is an 8th grader in the community and is a clarinet student of Bart Yates. He has studied clarinet with Bart for 1 ½ years.

Bart nominated Ian for Musician of the Month because, “Ian was accepted to IBA (an honor band for the best 8th grade players in the state) and has been playing very well. He is also a joy to teach.”

Ian’s musical goals are to be accepted to All State Band and Choir. His advice to other musicians is to have a positive attitude. Ian is in show choir, choir and soccer. He also enjoys participating in musicals. He likes Legos, biking, skiing and Star Wars. His favorite musician is Charlie Puth and Ian likes melodic piano music.

You might be surprised to learn that Ian went to school in London once and is the least picky eater he knows. He will eat anything!

Congratulations, Ian! 

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1/2/2017 3:02:00 PM  
Geneva has been a vocal student in the West Music Lessons program since she was 14 years old, studying with instructor Alice Feldmann for nearly 7 years!  She frequently shares her talents by participating in community recitals, accompanied by her teacher on the piano. 

Geneva is 20 years old, and her goal is to become a United States Marine.  When she is not making music she is often at work or working out with her squad. 

Her teacher, Alice Feldmann, is very proud of Geneva and has this to say about working with her:

“Geneva possesses the widest range of any voice student I've ever worked with.  She has a whistle register that is very uncommon.  An example of this sort of register would be Maria Carey who happens to hold the World record for the widest register.  Geneva is just about 5 notes from that record. Geneva loves to sing whenever and wherever she can and has been very involved with the West Music's Weekend Warriors."

Congratulations, Geneva!

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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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12/6/2016 7:51:00 AM  
7 Tips to Keep Playing


practice time
Your child was so excited to get their music instrument, you thought they would never put it down! However, a few months in and the instrument is sitting in a corner of the house. As a parent, it's important to get your child motivate to practice regularly. 

Students who practice regularly, even if it’s just for a few minutes every day, retain lessons better and develop new skills quicker. They also often report enjoying music class more.

As parents, it’s hard to keep our kids motivated to practice, but remember it’s practice that makes perfect.  West Music educators have put together this list of their seven best tips to help your child keep playing and keep having fun!

1. Break practice out into 5-10 minutes.
Finding the time to practice is difficult; there’s homework, chores, family time, sports and many other actives that make up the day. 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 other commitments, 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 800-397-9378


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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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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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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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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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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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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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