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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

West Music’s Residency Sponsorship Shows The Power of Music Therapy
By West Music Company
3/10/2016 10:21:00 AM  

The music therapy discipline is a fundamental and highly respected element of care for people with dementia, developmental and learning disabilities, brain injuries, and many other conditions—and the University of Iowa School of Music has contributed in important ways to its growth, through training therapists and conducting foundational research.

Rhapsodie String Quartet
The Rhapsodie String Quartet of the Madison Symphony Orchestra

Later this month, the UI and eastern Iowa community will have a chance to learn  about a successful music therapy-informed program, when the UI and West Music team up to bring the Madison Symphony Orchestra's HeartStrings program—a community engagement initiative that serves children and adults with special needs—for a two-day residency.

The MSO's Rhapsodie String Quartet will host a free, public "Under the Hood" program in the University Capitol Centre Recital Hall from 12:30 p.m.-1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23. The event will feature the Rhapsodie String Quartet, MSO Director of Community Engagement Kathryn Schwarzmann, MSO music therapist Laurie Farnan, and UI music and music therapy educators.

"Anyone with an interest in music with special populations will find the Under the Hood event a fascinating exploration of the development of the MSO's HeartStrings program," said Mary Adamek, head of the Music Therapy Area of the UI School of Music.

During their residency, the Rhapsodie String Quartet will also perform in a specially designed HeartStrings program for residents of Iowa City's Oaknoll Retirement Residence and their families. The Oaknoll session will be closed to the public.

The residency is co-sponsored by the UI Music Therapy Program, the UI String Quartet Residency Program, the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, and West Music.

About HeartStrings

HeartStrings is the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s award-winning, music therapy-informed community engagement program that serves children and adults with special needs, including developmental and physical disabilities, long-term illnesses, assisted living needs, and dementia.

The program aims to serve participants by enhancing their quality of life and overcoming the barrier presented by concert halls by bringing live, high-quality classical music to them through a series of highly participatory music sessions.

HeartStrings is presentedby the MSO’s Rhapsodie Quartet at community partner locations which include healthcare facilities, state institutions, and retirement communities.

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Tags: University of Iowa School of Music, Madison Symphony Orchestra, HeartStrings, Rhapsodie String Quartet, under the hood, Kathryn Schwarzmann, MSO, Laurie Farnan, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies
Categories: Music Therapy, Music Advocacy
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Extraordinary Associate of the Month February 2016: Jenny Denk MT-BC
By West Music Company
2/24/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Jenny DenkSince she became the first music therapist for West Music in Urbandale, Jenny has taken the area by storm! We knew Jenny was a good egg when we hired her but had no idea how amazing she truly is! While we initially thought it would take some time to fill her caseload, she had found enough work to keep her busy (and then some) within just a few months!

Jenny started the SoundReach choir and had 7 people show up to the first semester. She now has 20-30 people who regularly attend and some semesters are upwards of 40 people! Jenny’s passion for music therapy is evident in everything she does! From learning Vietnamese songs for a Vietnamese patient who spoke no English, to being with patients as they are actively dying, Jenny quickly creates rapport and tries to learn whatever she can to make the session a beneficial one for everyone involved. Jenny is also very involved with the Iowa Chapter of Music Therapy and the Iowa Task Force for Music Therapy Recognition, and you can often find her at the Capitol advocating for music therapy licensure.

She is a team player and goes above and beyond to keep her fellow music therapists engaged and to recognize their achievements, so we are so happy to be able to recognize her and all of her hard work!

Congratulations Jenny and thanks for all you do!

As told by Kelly L. Carlson, MA, MT-BC
Music Therapist-Board Certified

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Tags: Jenny Denk, Music Therapy, Urbandale, SoundReach, Iowa Chapter of Music Therapy, Iowa Task Force for Music Therapy Recognition
Categories: Music Therapy, Extraordinary Associate of the Month
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Vocal Play with Young Children
By Lorna, MT-BC
9/29/2015 11:13:00 AM  

Music is a great way to enhance development in young children. Anyone can use music, whether they are parents, daycare providers, teachers, or therapists. One aspect of singing that is important with young children is vocal play. Vocal play can be used from infancy through preschool.

With babies, engaging in vocal play is very validating to them. Think of “motherese” and the natural lilting way that your voice changes when you speak lovingly to a baby. This is a natural way of speaking that enhances development. If they make noises at you, imitate them back. Make your noises sound like questions and answers. Have a “conversation” with them. It’s never too early to teach them how to have a real conversation someday. Don’t worry about feeling silly, babies love this!

With toddlers, you can play imitation games to work on listening and speech skills. For example, play a sort of my turn/your turn game with singing. Sing something easy like “la la”, using the first two pitches of “Ring around the Rosy”. You may need to tell them, “You sing: la la” Once they understand the game, use different word sounds, like “bee bo”, “da da”, “mi ma”, etc. Add different pitches and words for a fun vocal play game. You can also help toddlers feel validated as communicators by imitating the sounds or pitches that they initiate. Try using vocal play while riding in the car, waiting for dinner, or changing a diaper. 

With preschool-aged children, use silly songs with rhymes to explore language. Songs like, “Down by the Bay” provide opportunities to learn about rhyming words. Kids can suggest animals, and you can help them come up with rhymes, even if they’re silly nonsense words. This kind of vocal play contributes to language and literacy development. 

Enjoy singing with your child in a new way-try vocal play!

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Tags: Music Education, Infants and Music, Infants, Babies, Babies and Music, Youth Development, Infant Development, Toddler Development, Toddlers and Music, Vocal Play
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Therapy
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Sing! Sing! Sing! Voice Saving Tips
By Emilia, MT-BC
7/2/2015 2:30:00 PM  

“You mean a professional singer has to take voice lessons?” This was a question asked of me not long ago. My response to that question is this, “Even a major leaguer has to go to batting practice.” Just because I get paid to do something, does not mean I am perfect at it. In fact, I think that because I am paid to do something is all the more reason to make sure I am as accomplished at it as possible.

I have been singing as long as I can remember. It started off on long car trips with my family when my mom taught my brother and I how to sing and harmonize with such songs as “Zum Gali Gali” and “Down By the Old Mill Stream”. It then progressed to singing in church and at nursing homes around town. Then came choir in middle school and high school. Of course, singing continued to be my passion as I pursued a degree in music therapy. If ever I needed to re-center myself, I’d sit down with my guitar and sing my heart out for hours on end until I felt like me again.

I have been practicing music therapy for almost 8 years now. I have been here at West Music Company practicing for over 6 years. In my music therapy practice, I work with kids every day. I LOVE working with kids, but I find that my singing repertoire is not quite what it used to be. Instead of Broadway and folk tunes that I used to get solace from, I sing children’s songs. Don’t get me wrong, children’s songs are lovely, they are what get us inspired in music to begin with. But all day, every day, the same 3 chords, and the same 5 note range, and your voice gets a bit bored, even lazy.

I began noticing that I could not quite sing like I wanted when I would be asked to sing in front of people. That is, unless I had a guitar and a group of children. So, I decided that I needed some help before I lost all ability to really sing. I began with an amazing instructor at the beginning of the year. I immediately noticed a difference in my voice. I not only was starting to sound like the old me, I was sounding better than the old me. I was amazed at what relearning proper techniques, and even some new ones, was able to do for my voice after nearly a decade of not taking lessons.

I have learned to love singing again!

Some voice saving tips:

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid things such as caffeine and alcohol (or at least limit intake)
  • Relax. If you feel strain in your throat while singing/speaking, you are probably doing some damage
  • Do not yell/scream. You can control the volume of your voice through the amount and speed of the air you use. If you are at a sporting event and need to make noise, learn to whistle or bring along a cowbell!
  • Don't force it. If you are feeling sick or overly-tired, do not force the sound out. We all have days that we need to just rest our voices. Use written communication when possible.
  • Stretch. If you are giving a speech or going to sing, warm up first!
  • Do not gasp. You do not need to take a breath as though it were your last. Your body will naturally get air to replenish its supply, and if you stand with correct posture, it will get enough to last you.
  • Rest up. Getting enough sleep will not only help your voice, but your overall health. Turn off the TV an extra 30 minutes each night to get that full 8 hours of sleep you deserve!

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Tags: Voice Tips, Music Therapy Tips, Voice Saving Tips
Categories: Music Therapy
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Supporting Music Education: Critical Factors for a Successful Program
By West Music Company
7/1/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Critical Factors for a Successful ProgramIf you are looking to maintain, build or expand your music program, Gaining the Arts Advantage: Lessons from Schools that Value Arts Education examines 13 critical factors that influence successful arts programs.

See an organized approach to the critical factors each school district must be aware of to be successful in arts education in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Critical Factors for a Successful Program

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 Therapy, Music Education
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West Music's Lindsay Askren, MT-BC, shares the power of music therapy
By West Music Company
7/1/2015 9:56:00 AM  

QUAD CITIES (KWQC) – The message is in the music. Sometimes in ways you might not expect.

Lindsay Askren offers a hearty hello to a group of individuals with disabilities from the Arc of the Quad Cities area. Lindsay is a Board Certified Music Therapist from West Music.

Strumming on a guitar, singing, tapping her toes, or playing the drums, Lindsay uses music to motivate. Encouraging individuals to enhance their life skills by playing or touching the instruments.

The music therapy sessions are outlets for individuals to follow directions and develop alternative forms of expression!

Music therapy helps individuals develop their social, communication, and motor skills. Every day skills!

The music therapy program serves seventy individuals at The Arc. Lindsay personalizes several of the songs she sings. She believes music therapy is also a confidence booster.

Therapy. Enhancing the lives of individuals. Treating people with respect and dignity!

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Tags: lindsay askren, music therapy, the arc, quad cities, fran riley feature, MT-BC
Categories: Music Therapy
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Urbandale June 2015 Musician of the Month: Abby Deeds
By West Music Company
6/1/2015 3:23:00 PM  
Abby is in 5th grade at Western Hills Elementary. She has studied piano with Paige Silberhorn for three years. Abby also plays the flute! Her teacher, Paige, says “Abby is a joy to work with! She is very talented and works hard eery week. She even memorizes a lot of her songs!”

Abby’s goal is to play flute in the Des Moines Symphony. Her advice to other musicians is to keep practicing and do your best. She loves making music and says “the joy of making music and accomplishing goals feels good!”

Besides flute and piano lessons, Abby also participates in Girl Scouts, choir, and school plays. She likes art, owls, Harry Potter, and the Warrior book series. She can’t pick a favorite musician - she likes them all!

Great job, Abby!

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Tags: abby deeds, Paige Silberhorn
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery, Music Therapy, Music Education
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Music Therapy Provides Comfort for Patients
By West Music Company
4/16/2015 9:21:00 AM  
Author: Megan Reuther

DES MOINES, Iowa – Music can provide comfort to patients at a time they may need it most. It’s one of a few therapies that can help people when they enter end of life care, and five sisters started an event to help provide the service.

For 30 minutes, Eugene Miller gets to relax. He said, “She sings the nicest songs and almost puts me to sleep.”

Jenny Denk with Unity Point Hospice doesn’t just sing. She’s a board-certified music therapist with a university degree. She said, “It’s a 4 year program that includes classes in music history, music theory, ensembles and lessons as well as biology, psychology, psychobiology.”

She visits about 30 patients a week with the goal of improving their quality of life. The patients pick their preferred songs, and she watches them while she sings, allowing for interaction a cd can’t provide. She said, “The benefit to having the live music is that I can alter the speed of the music. I can alter the style of the music. I can alter the lyrics in the music to address the patients’ needs.”

A massage therapist also visits Miller once a week and therapy dogs are available for patients receiving care through UnityPoint Hospice. Denk said, “When people think of hospice, they think of sadness and end of life and really scary things. But for me, hospice is about celebrating and honoring the life of the patient and providing the dignity that they deserve.”

Comfort therapies aren’t covered by insurance, so they rely on private pay and donations. An event coming up will help support the program. Rebecca Campbell and her four sisters started the Give It Away 5k in memory of their mom Lorrie Shetterly. Campbell said, “We wanted to create a family event where families could come out, make memories together and have fun and raise funds for a really good cause.”

Shetterly died of a rare neurological condition after spending a few days in hospice care at Taylor House. The annual event has raised about $8,000 in its two years. Campbell said, “She was just a very warm and loving and caring person. We just wanted to try to pass some of that on through this event.”

It’s something Miller appreciates. He said, “I tell you, I didn’t know it was available until it was, and I wouldn’t do it without it now if I had to.”

The Give It Away 5k is Saturday, May 2nd in Water Works Park. Check in starts at 8:15 a.m., the walk is at 9 a.m., followed by a memorial walk at 10 a.m. You can sign-up www.giveitaway5k.com. You can also make a donation, if you aren’t able to run.

Read the whotv.com artice here.

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Tags: music therapy, jenny denk, comfort therapies, give it away 5k
Categories: Music Therapy, Music Advocacy
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West Music Celebrates Iowa Music Therapy Awareness Week February 23-27, 2015
By West Music Company
2/23/2015 4:34:00 PM  

West Music, provider of music therapy services to the Central and Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois region since 1994,  is proud to announce its participation in Music Therapy Awareness Week, February 23 to February 27, 2015.  Music Therapy Awareness Week is intended to help educate the public about the benefits of music therapy for individuals in a wide variety of circumstances or settings. West Music will celebrate the week by honoring their on-staff music therapists, sharing with the community the benefits and value of music therapy, and by showcasing tools and products designed for music therapists and the therapy setting.  Additionally, Music Therapists from around the state of Iowa will gather at the Iowa State Capitol on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 to educate state legislators about music therapy and its uses. 

About Music Therapy

Music therapy is the clinical and evidenced based use of music to achieve non-musical goals such as cognitive, emotional, social, and motor skills in addition to communication skills. A Music Therapist uses both instrumental and recorded music to help individuals work on these specific goal areas.  Individuals of all ages can participate in music therapy.  Therapists work with clients to develop a program that is unique to them and based off of their personal music preferences.  No prior musical knowledge or experience is required to participate and benefit from music therapy.

About Music Therapy Services at West Music

Music Therapy Services at West Music believes in the therapeutic value and benefits of music for all people.  West Music is dedicated to enhancing the lives of all clients through successful musical experiences that address specific needs with respect and dignity.  Music Therapy Services of West Music currently provides support and services to more than 500 clients weekly in a wide variety of settings including West Music studios, school systems, hospice, and private homes.  Music Therapy Services available through West Music include one to one individual therapy, small group therapy (3-6 people), large group therapy (6-12 people), recreational music classes and adaptive music lessons.  For more information about Music Therapy Services at West Music, please visit musictherapy.westmusic.com or contact Kelly Carlson, MA, MT-BC, Director of Music Therapy Services at West Music at kcarlson@westmusic.com.

About West Music Company

Founded in 1941, West Music continues to fulfill its mission of creating musical communities by providing knowledge, products, and services people need to experience the power of making music!  West Music specializes in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offers music instruction, repair and music therapy services.  West Music has seven retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education, percussion, and Latin music communities. For more information, visit westmusic.com or call 1-800-373-2000.

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Tags: Music Therapy, iowa music therapy awareness week, kelly carlson, music therapy services
Categories: Music Therapy, Press Releases
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Why Music Education?
By West Music
12/29/2014 11:19:00 AM  
Students consume their music with technology; either on
an iPod, through a music streaming service, or by watching
YouTube. As educators, we begin with the knowledge
a student possesses, and then provide the inspiration,
guidance, and materials for students to expand upon their
current knowledge.

By offering a music technology course, teachers can attract
and retain students from the entire school. Begin the course
by teaching with the music that students already know, then
allow the class to discover the joy of creating and understanding
the elements of music, which can lead to further study in the field
or the desire to learn an instrument. Music technology allows
teachers to increase their value to the school and community by
reaching more students and growing their ensembles.

Want to know how to use recorded assessments in the music
classroom? Visit musiced.presonus.com to view more from John!

– John Mlynczak, M.M., M.ED.
Education Market Manager, PreSonus

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Tags: education, music, technology, music technology, teach, teacher, john mlynczak
Categories: Music Therapy, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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