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The West Music Blog
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West Music’s Nancy Cree Keyboard Recitals to Honor Prominent Composer
By Tina Chapman
5/17/2017 12:53:00 PM  

Robert D. VandallCoralville, IA – May 17, 2017 – West Music will honor prominent composer Robert D. Vandall at their Two Grand Spring Recitals this weekend at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts. The recitals feature students of West Music based Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Centers. Students from age 4 to adult will be performing including special recognition for our students graduating from high school.

Prolific composer Robert D. Vandall passed away in February at age 72 following a long and courageous battle with cancer. Vandall published more than 500 works under Alfred Publishing. In addition to operating a private studio in Ohio with his wife Karen, Vandall presented and taught workshops in more than 30 states for many years including many locally at West Music.

Two of this weekend’s series of recitals will feature works by Vandall. Recital times for the Vandall-centered recitals are May 20 at 1:00 p.m. and May 21 at 4:30 p.m. both at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts, 1301 5th Street in Coralville, Iowa. The events are free and open to the public.

“His true passion was composing. He will be missed all over the world for his amazing talent,” said Tina Chapman, Supervisor and Head Teacher of Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Center at West Music. “We will keep his spirit alive by playing and sharing his music. It is our honor to present several of his pieces in this weekend’s recitals.”


     Nancy Cree Keyboard Logo 


About Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Centers

The Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Center Program seeks to open as many musical doors as possible to its students. From traditional acoustic piano to the newest electronic technology, the instruction seeks to introduce and excite the student to a variety of musical possibilities. We take a broad range approach to the varied musical traditions such as classical, jazz, folk and popular music. Music is learned, then performed among family and friends in a variety of social settings. Students develop self-confidence, stage presence and have fun performing together in a cooperative environment. To learn more or sign up for Nancy Cree or any West Music classes visit westmusic.com/lessons.

West Music Logo

About West Music

West Music is a third generation locally owned and family operated business. For over 75 years, West Music has been the area’s leading partner in music education, specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offering music instruction, repair, and music therapy services. With seven retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education and percussion communities, West Music strives to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play now and play for life. For more information, visit westmusic.com or call 1-800-373-2000.


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Tags: piano recital, lessons, Coralville, Alfred Publishing
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville, Press Releases, piano
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Coralville April 2017 Musician of the Month: Alyssa Wasmund
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Alyssa Wasmund is in the 7th grade. She studies voice with Jessica Saunders and piano with Tina Chapman. Her voice instructor nominated her to be a featured student because “Alyssa is an excellent all around student and musician. As a singer she has a lovely voice that is mature for her age, without being forced. Alyssa is always willing to try new styles of music and we have worked on everything from pop to Italian art song! Alyssa is wonderfully musical and expressive during performances.” She also plays the flute.  Alyssa earned a 1 rating at the recent IMTA piano festival and has started to work on her second Italian song in her voice studies!

She has always wanted to sing in musicals, and also likes modern rock music. She loves that music is not just about creativity, but also about learning new things and challenging yourself. Her advice to other musicians is “Never give up. Even if you mess up in the middle of a song, don’t stop!” Other hobbies include reading, writing, drawing, ice skating and GLOW club. 

Congratulations, Alyssa!

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Tags: voice, vocal, lesson, teach, piano, Jessica Saunders, Tina Chapman,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Cedar Rapids April 2017 Musician of the Month: Benjamin Hollinger
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Our musician of the month for May 2017 is Benjamin Hollinger. Benjamin is a piano student of James Jenkins here at West Music Cedar Rapids. He is in the 3rd grade at Prairie View Elementary school. He has studied piano with Mr. Jenkins for 1½ years. Benjamin is always prepared for his lessons and always has a great lesson.

Benjamin’s musical goals are to learn to play the drums and play in a school band and church youth group. His advice to other musicians is to NOT quit even if you get frustrated! The thing he likes most about making music is to listen to the music he plays.

Some other interests Benjamin includes are soccer, chess, working on projects, building things, and computer programming. His favorite music is 80’s rock. Something that you might not know about Benjamin is that he was born with a club foot.
Congratulations, Benjamin! Great job!

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Tags: West Music, Cedar Rapids, piano, lessons, James Jenkins
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Falls April 2017 Musician of the Month: Aveinda Rusk
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Aveinda Rusk is a student at Denver Elementary. She has been studying the violin with Andrea Alert for two and a half years. She loves to play the violin because of the sound that it makes. Her advice to other musicians is to not overthink what you are playing.

Aveinda plays both the violin and oboe, and her goal is to learn the viola and cello too. Her favorite musician Lindsey Sterling. Something that might surprise others to hear is that she has five sisters. When she is not making music, Aveinda can be found playing Minecraft, Dragon City, and playing with her sisters and friends.

Way to go, Aveinda!

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Tags: lesson, cedar falls, violin, Andrea Alert
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Des Moines April 2017 Musician of the Month: Kimball Mendenhall
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Kimball Mendenhall has been a piano student of Dr. Asia Grant for 6 months. He is a 2nd grader in the Waukee Community School District. Kimball loves using his hands to make music and learn new pieces. He is smart, fast, and loves to play sports. Kimball’s favorite sports are soccer, basketball, and football.

Kimball participates in Boy Scouts, as well as playing soccer and basketball. Dr. Grant believes Kimball deserves recognition because “Kimball is very hard working, responsible, always comes to lessons prepared, is a fast learner, and he loves music.”

Congratulations, Kimball!

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Tags: des moines, urbandale, piano gallery, lesson, Asia Grant
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Coralville April 2017 Musician of the Month: Lauren Spence
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Lauren Spence is a 4th grader studying violin in the West Music Lessons program with Gayla Drake. She has been in lessons for over a year and has made great progress on her musical path!

When not playing violin, Lauren enjoys dance (aero and tap), spending time in her church group, writing, drawing, cooking and singing. Her favorite music is Irish jigs. “Irish jigs make me feel happy! I love getting new songs to play!” Her favorite musicians are Gayla Drake, Lindsey Stirling and Celtic Woman.

Lauren delights me every week with how dedicated she is, and how quickly she learns tunes! She loves the music of Ireland, and has been acquiring tunes since the very beginning. I have loved Irish music since I was a kid, too, and having someone to share and pass tunes on to has been so much fun. She's always happy, positive, and a joy to work with. Lauren makes me look forward to Mondays! - Gayla Drake

Lauren’s advice to other musicians is “Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get it the first time you play. Keep trying! Make sure you play the kind of music you enjoy.”

She is a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland and America and travels to visit her family in Northern Ireland every summer. Lauren also enjoys time with her hamster, Bert, and her bunny, Ginger. 

Congratulations, Lauren!

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Tags: lessons, lesson, violin, gayla drake,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Des Moines March 2017 Musician of the Month: Lucas Clark
By West Music Company
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! 


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Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Cedar Rapids March 2017 Musician of the Month: Isaac Peterson
By West Music Company
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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Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Urbandale February 2017 Musican of the Month: Mitchell Logan
By West Music Company
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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Tags: Janet Winship, piano, student, lessons, west des moines, urbandale
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Coralville February 2017 Musician of the Month: Josie Fullenkamp
By West Music Company
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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Tags: violin, gayla drake, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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