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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.

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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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Steinway Extravaganza 2016 Featuring Anderson and Roe
By West Music Company
10/8/2016 8:00:00 AM  



Join us for a week of fun and celebration of Steinway & Sons pianos!

Please mark your calendars for October 9th – October 15 and get ready for this year’s Steinway Extravaganza! We are pleased to announce this year that we will back to our roots, and hosting a large portion of events at the University of Iowa School of Music in downtown Iowa City. We are very proud to be able to help introduce the School of Music to our local musical communities.

As always, the Extravaganza will feature a series of concerts and recitals highlighting our wonderful University of Iowa piano faculty and your students. This year, we are honored to host three very special opportunities to hear internationally renowned Steinway artists, Anderson and Roe! They will perform on Friday, October 14 at 7:30pm. Find out more about this dynamic duo at andersonroe.com.

This year’s calendar of events:

Sunday, October 9
  • 3:00pm – The University of Iowa piano faculty in concert presenting Bach’s “8 hands, 4 pianos” at the Music Building Concert Hall.
Thursday, October 13
  • 7:00pm – Anderson and Roe Meet and Greet Opportunity at West Music Coralville. Meet the artists, purchase memorabilia, like signed CDs, and experience an intimate concert from Anderson and Roe incorporating the new Steinway player piano system, Spirio.
Friday, October 14
  • 10:30am – Piano Pedagogy Workshop at the University of Iowa School of Music Building.
  • 7:30pm – Anderson and Roe in Concert at the University of Iowa School Music Building Concert Hall.
Saturday, October 15
  • 10:30am – Master class with Anderson and Roe and University of Iowa piano faculty at the School of Music Building.
  • 1:00pm – Informal student recital at the Senate Chamber in the Old Capitol.
  • 2:30pm – Formal/advanced student recital at the Senate Chamber in the Old Capitol.


We will have a large selection of Steinway and Sons, Boston, and Essex pianos displayed at West Music Coralville all week with special-event pricing!


Tickets for Anderson and Roe in Concert are $15/adults and $5/students and are available through the Hancher Box Office.

Purchase Tickets Here

 


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Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, West Music Coralville, Press Releases, piano
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Clavfest 2013 @ West Music
By West Music
10/5/2013 8:53:00 AM  

Clavinova Fest 2013Clavfest is a fun, rewarding experience where students work with their teachers to perform a song on the Yamaha Clavinova utilizing one or more features of the Clavinova—no piano only sound is allowed!  Students will often choose to use the automatic rhythm, layer and sequence their own fun background music, or use commercial software to enhance their selection.  A special concert is held for the student to perform their selection.










Upcoming Dates At All West Music Locations:


West Music Marion
October 26th

West Music Cedar Falls
October 26th

West Music Coralville
November 2nd

West Music Piano Gallery in Urbandale
November 2nd


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Tags: yamaha, clavfest, clavinova
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Conservatory
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Piano Gallery News - New Sheet Music Additions
By Nick Janssen
6/24/2013 9:47:00 AM  

Praise Hits Piano Level 1The Sound of MusicFor those of you who have relied on Alfred’s Basic Piano Library over the past 30 years, you may have noticed that there haven’t been

As the popularity of folk and Irish music continues to grow, more and more publishers are coming out with great collections of these genres for a variety of non-traditional instruments. One collection is Schott Music’s new release The Irish Piano Book. While the piano isn’t normally associated with traditional Irish music, these 20 arrangements for easy piano will bring a smile to your face with fun jigs like “Tripping up the Stairs” and “Blarney Pilgrim.” any new additions to the method for quite some time. You can stop holding your breath because the first two levels of ABPL Praise Hits are now available! Levels 1A and 1B offer classic praise hits arranged by well-respected Alfred authors Gayle Kowalchyk, E. L. Lancaster and Tom Gerou. These accessible arrangements for just-beginning pianists include “Because He Lives” and “Here I Am to Worship” in level 1A, and “Shout to the Lord” and “You Are My All in All” in level 1B.

Traveling from the green hills of Ireland to the Swiss Alps of Austria you’ll find Phillip Keveren—or at least his new collection of 13 piano solos from The Sound of Music. This soon-to-be-released addition to Hal Leonard’s The Phillip Keveren Series contains all your favorite songs from one of the greatest musical/movies ever created. So pop some popcorn, grab a tall 

soda, lower the lights and play away.


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Tags: nick janssen, west music pianos, alfred's basic piano library, the sound of music, praise hits 1a
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Music, Books & Resources
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Guide for Electronic Equipment Diagnosis
By Gavin Wright
4/24/2013 9:39:00 AM  

In need of electronic gear repairs? Read this first.

Is your amp broken? Has your speaker stopped "speaking" to you, or is your keyboard out of commission? You've come to the right place, but before you bring in your broken stuff, let's take a moment to better identify the real problem.

So, what is actually broken here anyway?

With electronic music equipment, there are often several different components working together to deliver the sound to your ear. An electric guitar has a pickup, volume and tone knobs, one or more cables, possibly some effects processors, an amplifier, a speaker and a power supply. A defect anywhere in this chain may prevent any sound from occurring. How can you tell where the problem is?

Divide and conquer. If your amplifier powers up but makes no sound, try using a different sound source (guitar, keyboard, whatever). No improvement? Try different connection cables. Still no sound? If possible, try a different speaker or speaker cabinet with the same amplifier. If none of these solve the problem, it's probably in the amplifier.

You get the idea - methodically replace each part of the signal chain you can to isolate the defective component. Many times, you can identify and fix the problem yourself – but not always. That's why we're here!

Follow these simple troubleshooting techniques to ensure you bring in the right piece of equipment.

Is there no sound coming from your instrument or amplifier?
      Try the "divide and conquer" technique above.

Did your gear emit smoke or sparks, or present any other obviously catastrophic symptom?
      If you fall into this group you'd better bring your gear in right away – something is obviously wrong.

Does your gear turn on?
      If it doesn't power up, check the outlet by plugging something else into it. If the outlet is okay, check to see if there is a user-replaceable fuse. If there is, unplug the unit, remove the fuse, locate a replacement fuse of the same value and swap it out. If the fuse blows again, or if replacement doesn't remedy your problem, bring it in for repair. Please don't try to access anything that requires disassembly. Many electronic components retain potentially lethal voltages even when unplugged.

Has your keyboard or other component begun acting erratically, or stopped remembering its presets and settings?
      Try "reinitializing". Many electronics have a "factory reset" option. Instructions should be outlined in your user manual, and many times consist of holding down a couple of specific buttons when turning the unit on. Be aware that this will generally erase any user-created presets and settings, but it sometimes straightens out the problem. If this doesn't help, it's time to visit our shop.


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Tags: repair, diagnosis
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Guitars & Folk, Live Sound & DJ, Recording & Software, Live Sound, Recording & Software
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May Piano Gallery News
By Nick Janssen
4/22/2013 11:21:00 AM  

Essential Elements Piano TheorySummer break is soon upon us and for many students that also means an extended break from piano lessons. It can be a challenge to retain
a year’s worth of theory without regularly scheduled lessons, especially when the answer to every exercise has already been scribbled in the book. A great tool for keeping this knowledge fresh is by supplementing summer homework with Hal Leonard’s new series Essential Elements Piano Theory. Whether using it alongside another method or as a standalone for teachers who customize their lesson plans, the series helps students learn and reinforce fundamental theoretical concepts—such as ear training, mastery eading, and analysis—through a clear and thorough presentation. Furthermore, the age-neutral layout and in rhythm, symbols, rcreative and fun approach makes this series the perfect fit for both child and adult students.











Complete Collection of Piano Solos for WeddingsPop Quiz: Besides the beginning of summer break, what else happens in June? Weddings! For pianists who have been asked to play at one of
the more than 230,000 June weddings that will take place in the United States this year, there is a great book by Jan Sanborn now available from Alfred Music Publishing. Wedding Performer: Complete Collection of Piano Solos for Weddings contains 44 arrangements of piano solos that are regularly requested for ceremonies and receptions. This comprehensive collection includes standard masterworks and Christian favorites ideal for preludes, processionals, interludes and recessionals, plus a number of popular and standard ballads. At 192 pages, this is a great go-to book for early advanced pianists as well as a resource for advanced pianists who find their set list inexplicably changing at the last minute.


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Tags: piano music, piano sheet music, Essential Elements, piano theory, Wedding Performer, piano solos, piano solos for weddings
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Music, Books & Resources
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April Piano Gallery News
By Nick Janssen
3/25/2013 11:12:00 AM  

Spring is here! After several months of cold wintery weather it’s time to put our spring plans into action—cleaning, gardening, road trips and picnics—just to name a few. But with all of these outdoor activities is there still time to play the piano? Several newly published sheet solos are now available, which are perfect for condensed practice sessions.

Midnight OwlRandall Hartsell has written two late elementary solos, both available from Hal Leonard. Midnight Owl takes you only where dreams can—watching an owl swing dance in the middle of the night. Accidentally on Purpose stays true to its title by throwing in a few accidentals to this cheerful, snappy piece in the key of F major.


















An American Sonatina

FJH has come out with three new pieces for intermediate soloists. The first, Timothy Brown’s suite An American Sonatina,
 evokes three scenes from America’s frontier: Roundup, Ghost Town Blues, and City Scenes. Covering a variety of musical styles, this American experience is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Kevin Olson’s Front Range for late intermediate soloists utilizes several musical concepts including pulsing sixteenth notes in the left hand and a 3/8 time signature to create a musical image of the Rock Mountains majesty and grandeur. Also by Olson is another late intermediate solo titled Northern Lights. Appropriately written as a toccata, this piece is artfully composed to represent the extraordinary beauty of the aurora borealis through modulating keys and multiple time signatures.












Lastly, G. Schirmer has just published a wonderful selection of short works by Edvard Grieg titled Grieg Selected Lyric PiecesSelected Lyric Pieces. Edited by the internationally acclaimed educator and performer William Westney, this book and CD edition contains 18 favorites that have been selected for their quality, variety and pedagogical value. Westney offers insightful suggestions, pertinent fingering, and historical and stylistic commentary making this edition an invaluable source not only for students and teachers but professional pianists as well.


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Tags: piano music, piano sheet music, Midnight Owl, Accidentally on Purpose, An American Sonatina, Front Range, Northern Lights, Selected Lyric Pieces, Edvard Grieg, late elementary solos, intermediate solos, late intermediate solos
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Music, Books & Resources
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March Piano Gallery News
By Nick Janssen
3/7/2013 4:52:00 PM  

Well, with last month's weather it’s a bit difficult to side with Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication of an early spring. All the same, I think I’ll keep the thermostat up, a cup of hot tea by my side and enjoy a little more time indoors at the piano.

If you’re feeling the same way and need a new book or two to keep you going for this last winter stretch, here are a few options that may interest you.

Hal Leonard has recently released the perfect winter sheet solo for us Iowans. Flight of Freedom Flight of Freedomby Glenda Austin was inspired by watching a family of bald eagles make their home in Iowa during the winter months through live streaming video. Using rich ascending arpeggios and motifs, Austin creates a great piece in the key of D major for mid-intermediate players.

















For those of you who can never decide between the classical and rock stations on your FM dial, Bach 'n' Rollyou can now enjoy both at the same time! Bach ‘n’ Roll by Cherry Lane contains 20 challenging arrangements of contemporary pop classics as if composed by your favorite classical masters. Have you ever pondered what it would be like to put Freddie Mercury and Beethoven in a room, or Ravel, Lennon and McCartney? This book is a great way to unwind after a couple hours in the practice room.
















If you’re looking for something a little more uplifting, you may enjoy two new advanced Sacred Performer books by Alfred Music Publishing. Mary K. Sallee has arranged eight medleys of timeless hymns that are available in Inspirational Hymn Medleys. Carefully chosen based on shared themes or texts, each piece is the right length for preludes and postludes. Also available is Our Great God, which contains 11 hymn arrangements by Rebecca Moore, a new addition to Alfred’s Sacred Performer lineup.

Whatever book ends up on your piano, enjoy the music you're making!


    


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February Piano Gallery News
By Nick Janssen
2/1/2013 3:41:00 PM  

With the winter holidays behind us, students are now back in school and beginning piano lessons again. Many are getting ready for the next level in their methods, so why not reinforce and strengthen their studies with two new supplements available from Hal Leonard and Alfred Music Publishing. The first is the Faber Piano Adventures Sight Reading Book 2A by Nancy and Randall Faber. Structured as a one-a-day exercise, students will build confidence in sight reading recognition of individual notes, and perception of note patterns, both rhythmic and melodic.

Also available is Alfred’s Premier Piano Course: Technique Book 4. A continuation of levels 1A–3, this book expands the student’s understanding of concepts such as staccato and legato, movement between white and black keys, and opening the hands. Also included are Artistic Etudes that showcase technique in a musical setting and Masterwork Etudes that provide training for playing standard masterworks.

For those of you who enjoy the sounds of 1920s novelty songs like “Kitten on the Keys” and “Dizzy Fingers,” Zez Confrey at the Pianoyou’re in luck! Alfred Music Publishing has released a collection of Zez Confrey’s works that not only includes these hits, but many titles that have been out of print for decades until now. Zez Confrey at the Piano is great book for advanced pianists who enjoy the syncopated rhythms of a bygone era.

















Oh, and can we forget Valentine’s Day? If you’re a fan of the movie adaption of the musical Les Misérables, Les Misyou can now buy the Easy Piano version that includes 16 song selections as well as notes from the composers and full-color stills from the film. Also included for the first time is the newly composed song “Suddenly,” which was written by Schönberg, Boublil and Kretzmer specifically for this blockbuster.


     
           


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Tags: piano music, piano method, Faber Piano Adventures Sight Reading Book 2A, Alfred's Premier Piano Course Technique Book 4, 1920s music, Zez Confrey at the Piano, Zez Confrey, Valentine's Day, Les Mis, Les Miserables
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January Piano Gallery News
By Nick Janssen
1/4/2013 3:52:00 PM  

For those of you who are fans of Jennifer Linn’s Journey Through the Classics series by Hal Leonard, you can now purchase the complete set Journey Through the Classicsof 98 pieces in one convenient compilation aptly titled Journey Through the Classics Complete. Books 1–4 have been combined in sequential order to provide a seamless transition from elementary to intermediate level classical repertoire. The well-rounded selection of works along with the collection’s tasteful design and excellent price make this an essential addition for any beginning pianist’s library.
















Also of particular note is the recent passing of jazz legend Dave Brubeck, having lived just one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Simply BrubeckDuring his lifetime he created many timeless standards that continue to shape the generations of jazz musicians who follow him. While there haven’t been any recent releases of Brubeck’s music for solo piano, one older title sticks out as a great introduction to his works. Alfred Music Publishing’s Simply Brubeck, arranged by Bruce Nelson, offers 26 selections of the composer’s vast library of jazz standards in an easy-to-read format that includes phrase markings, articulations, fingering and dynamics, as well as a larger print size. Perfect for the Late Intermediate pianist looking for accessible arrangements of one of the century’s greatest artists.

The next time you stop by West Music, be sure to ask one of our associates to pull a copy of Journey Through the Classics Complete and Simply Brubeck.


     
      


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