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The West Music Blog
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Urbandale December 2016 Musician of the Month: Charlie LaCroix
By West Music Company
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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Tags: piano, lessons, des moines, urbandale, piano gallery, Asia Grant
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Cedar Rapids December 2016 Musician of the Month: Lauren Miller
By West Music Company
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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Tags: piano, lesson, Alice Lindsey, cedar rapids, marion
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Falls December 2016 Musician of the Month: Emma Schaffer
By West Music Company
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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Tags: piano, lessons, Virginia Lee, cedar falls,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Coralville December 2016 Teacher Feature: Caleb Lambert
By West Music Company
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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Tags: trombone, baritone, lessons, teacher, coralville, caleb lambert, brass, low brass
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Coralville December 2016 Musician of the Month: Carly Ephraim
By West Music Company
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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Tags: Jason Sifford, percussion, drums, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Quad Cities November 2016 Teacher Feature: Merit Ringberg
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 10:00:00 AM  
Merit Ringberg has been playing saxophone for 34 years and has been teaching private saxophone, clarinet and oboe lessons for 27 years. She graduated with a Music Education degree (BEI) from Augustana College. Merit has played with numerous ensembles at Augustana and has performed on the Paula Sand Life Show multiple times. She previously taught band at Hampton Elementary/Middle School for 2 years. Merit has also been a saxophone judge for IMEA. She has also played with the Quad City Wind Ensemble and currently plays with the Maple City Community Band. Merit has previously taught woodwinds at Augustana College, Griggs Music and now West Music. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her family, going to concerts and reading.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Merit Ringberg through November!


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Tags: quad, lessons, teacher, sax, saxophone, clarinet, oboe
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Coralville September 2016 Musician of the Month: Aubryn Kaine
By West Music Company
9/2/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Aubryn is a freshman at City High School in Iowa City. She has studied cello with Christina Gentzsch for 4 years and has also had a year of voice lessons with Jessica Saunders. Her musical goals are to get into All State Orchestra during high school. She would also like to pursue a degree in music or the arts.

Aubryn has a great perspective on music! We asked her what she loves about playing music and she responded, “The way that I feel afterwards and while I’m playing. If I’m stressed, worried, nervous, or even overly excited, I start to sing or play my cello and I come out calmer and ready to take whatever’s next. I also love making music, not just playing notes on a page. The difference is hard to learn and apply, but when I succeed, it’s amazing.” Her advice to other musicians is to keep playing even when it gets challenging and to repeat things over and over until you have it. Her favorite artist is Lindsey Stirling, and she loves instrumental music as well as 80’s music.

Activities that Aubryn enjoys include orchestra, cross country and track (and running “just for the heck of it”), fencing, dance, engineering and math, reading and language arts. She has studied Tae Kwon Do since she was 4 ½ years old and earned her 3rd degree black belt just before turning 10 years old!

Congratulations, Aubryn!

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Tags: Christina Gentzsch, Jessica Saunders, cello, voice, vocal, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Coralville September 2016 Teacher Feature: Miriam Garrett
By West Music Company
9/2/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Miriam graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree in Music Education and Oboe performance in 2009. She currently is the principal oboe for the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra and plays with various church ensembles. She also is an elementary school general music teacher in the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She has taught private music lessons since 2004 instructing elementary, middle school, and high school age students on oboe, piano, and alto saxophone. Lessons are tailored to fit each student's personal interests and musical abilities. Miriam enjoys working with students who are excited about music and enjoy learning.

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Tags: Miriam Garrett, oboe, lessons, teacher
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Coralville September 2016 Teacher Feature: Mitsuko Yofune
By West Music Company
9/2/2016 8:00:00 AM  

Mitsuko is originally from Japan and began her piano studies at the age of five. In 2009, she came to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance. Continuing her education at the University of Illinois, she received her Masters degree in Piano Performance and Literature in 2015. She is currently finishing a second Masters degree in Piano Pedagogy and will graduate in December.

Mitsuko has won several school competitions, been a busy accompanist for several organizations, and served as a piano instructor for the UIUC piano laboratory program.

Sharing her native language and love of teaching, Mitsuko served as a Japanese Teaching Assistant at UIUC for three years.

She is excited to share all of her years of learning with our students and families, and we’re excited to have her as a Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Center teacher!


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Tags: Mitsuko Yofune, piano, studio, lessons, lessons, teacher
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Decorah September 2016 Teacher Feature: Mark Armstrong
By West Music Company
9/2/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Mark Armstrong is a published poet and author, interweaving his story telling with original songs. Mark's songwriting was influenced by the styles of Gordon Lightfoot and Greg Brown. He has worn many hats in his lifetime, including running his own business for 25 years, and has a wealth of experiences from which to draw his material. Mark has been teaching guitar and ukulele in his home studio and at West Music Decorah for just over a year, and has enjoyed the experience immensely. Having started playing music at age 42, Mark is proof that it is never too late to learn and enjoy the power of making music!

When not playing one of his many instruments or writing songs, Mark enjoys foraging, hunting, and spending time with his lovely wife and their pets. Mark's music can be enjoyed at local farmers' markets, open mic nights, and the ukulele club that he helped start in the spring of 2016. In his own words, Mark loves "how music can touch and communicate with people." His original song "Ice Cream" that is about Alzheimer's has touched many people everywhere that Mark has shared it. Join Mark for one of his fun and laid back group classes starting October 8, 2016. Ask an associate for more details.

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Tags: mark armstrong, teacher, lessons, guitar, ukulele
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Decorah
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Extraordinary Associates of the Month November 2016: PASIC Crew
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7 Tips for Practicing over Winter Break
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Urbandale December 2016 Musician of the Month: Charlie LaCroix
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