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String Instrument Care Tips
By West Music Company
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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7 Tips for Practicing over Winter Break
By West Music Company
12/6/2016 7:51:00 AM  
7 Tips to Keep Playing


practice timeYour child just got through their first big concert of the year and is now looking forward to a relaxing winter break. The last thing on their mind is practicing their instrument. As parents, it’s hard to help keep our kids motivated while school is out, but it’s important to remember that even though concert season is over for now, music season is never over!

At West Music we have seen that students who practice their instruments over school breaks, even just for a few minutes every day, retain lessons better and develop new skills quicker. When school gets back in session, students who have practiced are less rusty and more excited to learn.

It’s sometimes hard to find the time to practice or stay motivated during school breaks, but West Music educators have put together this list of their seven best tips to help your child keep playing all winter long!


1. Break practice out into 5-10 minutes.
Finding the time to practice is difficult, especially during the holidays. 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 holiday events, 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 1-800-397-9378


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Tags: band, orchestra, students, winter, holidays
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Drums & Percussion, Music Education
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10 Holiday Gifts That Your Kids Will Love
By West Music Company
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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Tags: holiday, christmas, gift guide, shopping, black friday, gift, gifts
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Orff, Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Folk, Kids & Movement, Live Sound & DJ, Music, Books & Resources, Live Sound, Recording & Software
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Meet Our Repair Team - Jay Ramsey: West Music Cedar Falls
By West Music Company
4/11/2016 2:28:00 PM  

Jay Ramsey works in the Band & Orchestra Repair Department at West Music Cedar Falls. Call Jay at (319) 277-1000 for all your band & orchestra repair needs!

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Meet Our Repair Team - Andy Taylor: West Music Coralville
By West Music Company
4/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  

Andy Taylor is a Woodwind Instrument Repair Specialist at the West Music Coralville location. He's been with West Music for a little over 17 years as a clarinet, oboe, flute, and piccolo specialist, and is also a graduate of Redwing Technical College. He's had a number of memorable "repair moments," including an emergency repair for the Lincoln Center jazz band.

If you have an instrument in need of repair, contact Andy at West Music Coralville by calling 800.373.2000 or 319.351.2000!

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Tags: andy taylor, repair, maintainance, specialist, woodwind,
Categories: Band & Orchestra, West Music Coralville
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Meet Our Repair Team - Mark Fiagle: West Music Coralville
By West Music Company
3/11/2016 8:43:00 AM  


Mark Fiagle is a Brass and Woodwind Instrument Repair Specialist at the West Music Coralville location. He's been with West Music since 1986, and specializes in saxophone, flute and bassoon repair and is qualified to work on all brands of Woodwind instruments. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1981 with a degree in Music Performance and attended Red Wing Vo-Tech in 1985-86, where he gathered experience working on both woodwind and brass instruments. Mark enjoys traveling with his family, as well as volunteering at his church.

If you have an instrument in need of repair, contact Mark at West Music Coralville by calling 800.373.2000 or 319.351.2000!

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Categories: Band & Orchestra, West Music Coralville
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Supporting Music Education: Choose to Teach
By West Music Company
10/15/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Choose to TeachHow do you know if you want to become a music teacher? Some students just know, and others make that decision when considering career options. For many students, sharing the joy of music becomes their passion.

This tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Choose to Teach presents information that will assist you and your students in making an informed choice. Becoming a music teacher can be an extremely rewarding and challenging career. If you love to make music and enjoy working with others, there is no better way to convey that passion than by sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm as a professional music educator.

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Audience Guidelines
By West Music Company
10/1/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Audience GuidelinesBecoming a discerning, supportive and knowledgeable audience member is an important part of a student’s education. Successful audience participation requires skill, discretion, common sense, discipline and a bit of knowledge.

Discover some great ways to set expectations for your audiences, in a variety of settings, in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Audience Guidelines

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Supporting Music Education: Concert Thoughts
By West Music Company
9/15/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Concert ThoughtsToo many excellent presentations are tainted by failure to take care of the many details of a production. We must take full advantage of the opportunities awaiting our students. The concert is our students' opportunity to show their parents or community audiences what they can do.

See an organized approach to creating a smooth-running, successful presentation where the students, audience, administration and support staff all understand their roles and expectations in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Concert Thoughts

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Supporting Music Education: Expanding the Learning Power of Music
By West Music Company
9/1/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Expanding the Learning Power of MusicThe contemporary student comes to the classroom with a sophisticated knowledge of computers. It is vital that we creatively approach and utilize the application of available technology to engage students and enhance learning. Multimedia learning provides teachers, including music teachers, the opportunity to be at the core of communications.

See an overview of how to apply current multimedia approaches to learning in the arts to attract and engage students and to enhance your program in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Expanding the Learning Power of Music

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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