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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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PreSonus Educational Discounts for Educators, Students, and Schools
By Kyle Ware
7/17/2012 1:43:00 PM  

West Music and PreSonus have teamed up to bring you these excellent recording/audio solutions at a special price for educators, students, and schools.

To qualify for this special price, please send your proof of academic status to service@westmusic.com or via fax (888.740.3942). Please include your contact information and order number (if you have already placed an order). All orders will not be shipped until proof has been received.

Examples for proof are:

  • Students: Current class schedule or fee statement (no more than 3 months old)
  • Educators: Recent paycheck stub or official letter from school
  • Schools: Official School Purchase order (if ordering with a PO, this will count. If ordering online or phone, we will need a copy of the PO).

Examples of PreSonus products that qualify:

Click here to find out more about PreSonus Studio One 2.0 Professional!


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Tags: PreSonus, PreSonus Promotions, West Music, West Music Promotions
Categories: Recording & Software
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Some Tips on Making Your Band More Popular
By Doug Ducey
5/24/2012 8:40:00 AM  

In the last three decades, the live music scenes all over the country have really taken a hit.  Different types of entertainment like DJ’s and Karaoke now work in the clubs and dance halls that used to book live bands.  Now, more than ever, live bands have to be at the top of their game if they intend to stay busy and make a decent income from their efforts.

That being said, here are some observations I have made over the years.  This is not meant to be a lecture or a “slam” to anyone, just some things I have noticed that I hope to pass on to anyone that reads this. 

  • Turn it down…no one will sit there and have their hearing damaged by a band that is too loud.  You may have all this huge, powerful gear in order to do outdoor shows, but you don’t need to bring it all to a club that barely seats 100 people.  If you see people standing and leaning across a table yelling in each other’s ears to be heard, turn it down.  They’ll stay longer and the venue manager/owner will be happier.
  • Take a little time and get the PA EQ’d properly…make sure the highs are not piercing and the lows are not muddy sounding.  Same rule applies to guitars…make sure they don’t override the PA and drown out the singer.
  • Only play songs that you play and sing well…does this make sense??  It may be the #1 song in the country right now, but if you play it poorly, people will notice.  Maybe there is a really high note that is just completely out of your singer’s range…pass on doing the song.  Maybe there is this fantastic guitar solo that just has to be played exactly like the record to be effective and your guitarist screws it up every time…pass on doing the song.  If there is a cool drum solo, and your drummer keeps dropping his sticks, pass on the song…etc. etc.   No band will ever impress a crowd if they do any songs that are just “so-so.”  They all have to sound good.
  • Play songs that you have the instrumentation for.  If you are a “guitar band” and do not have a synthesizer, you’ll need to avoid tunes that are heavily synth laden.  Once I heard a band cover Van Halen’s “Jump” with only guitars and no synthesizer…it was awful!!  Why would you play something you suck at??
  • Learn some new or different material and mix up the order on the set list.  Regardless of the genre, your regular followers will soon tire of your set list if you play the same songs in the same order every gig.
  • Don’t stay in one place too long.  Unless you are a “House Band” at a venue, if you play many, many gigs at the same place, you run the risk of becoming “stale” there.  After a while, the crowd of regulars will know your set list better than you do.  Move around and gain more fans.  If you are lucky enough to snag a House Band job, keep in mind that you’ll need to constantly working up new and different tunes as often as possible or the concept will not work for any length of time.  Also, the band members can and will get bored playing the same old stuff.
  • Start on time and don’t make band breaks last too long…people will leave. 
  • If you are over 21 and playing the bars, keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.  Drunken bands don’t work much and when they do, they don’t make a lot of money.
  • Keep the set moving!  Play one song after another with a minimum of “dead air”.  If someone has to tune during the set, have a “front man” designated and make sure he is talking to the crowd about…anything!!  Find out what specials the place may be running in the near future and use tuning time to promote the venue…they’ll love you for it!!  Once I had an agent that explained it to me like this…”Let’s say you’re in your car and cruising down the Interstate listening to the radio.  A song ends and you have nothing but silence coming from your speakers…no music…no announcer…nothing.  What happens after, say, 10 seconds?  What happens is that you change stations!  Being on stage works the same way…if you treat your audience to a bunch of dead air and long pauses between songs…they change venues.”  He was so right on this one!  A mediocre band that keeps the show rolling will out draw a band of monster players, but they mess around between songs and have a lot of dead air.
  • Have “hand out” sheets for the venue patrons with your upcoming schedule of shows.

Always do your best to be a crowd pleaser.  Listen to your audience, particularly when they request tunes, and look at adding tunes you get a lot of requests for.  You should always have fun in your band, but remember; it is still a business and needs to be treated like one.

Keep rockin’!!


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Tags: Band Tips, Band Guide, Rock Band Tips, Rock Band Guide, Live Music Tips, Live Music Guide
Categories: Live Sound & DJ, Recording & Software
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Always have your wish list ready!
By Judy Pine
5/2/2012 3:08:00 PM  

It’s the end of a busy week and your principal contacts you to say he/she has found some funds for your program, but needs your wish list by the end of the day--and it’s already 3:00 pm!  While it’s exciting to hear this financial support has come to your program, what IS your wish list and HOW do you have it prioritized? 

I would recommend you have two lists at your fingertips at all times.  The first is an inventory list of the type and condition of instruments and resource materials in your classroom.  Do those 10 pair of maracas (that were in the room before you took this job) need to be replaced and if so, do you really need 10 pair moving forward?  Here’s an example to get you started!

South Elem. Inventory List (May 12, 2012)

Qty. Type of Instrument Condition More Needed? Approximate Cost?
2 Pair of finger cymbals Need new elastic straps No  
15 Pairs of rhythm sticks 10 pairs ok, 5 pairs to replace 5 to 10 pairs $1.50 each
2 10" frame drums New in 2009 10 more would be great $13.50 each x 10=$135.00
2 12" frame drums New in 2010 10 more would be great $16.75 each x 10=$167.50
10 PR maracas 4 pairs broken, 6 more than enough    
1 Soprano glock? Not sure if it's an alto or soprano, missing F#'s 1 new one with all bars $195.00 for an alto
1 Alto Xylophone Bars sound flat, maybe needs new tubing?   $26.00 for 4 yards of cording
1 Conga drum New in 2011    

 

With the inventory list above, you’re ready to spend that $200.00 from your principal within five minutes, as you know the condition and quantity of your instruments!

 

Then the 2nd list to have ready to go is your Wish List!  This is the list of all the instruments and materials you wished were in your classroom(s) in order to really give your students the music education experiences they need.  Be sure to find approximate costs so that when time is limited you’re able to put together your wish list in order of preference with reasons why all of these items are important to your student’s education.  Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking about how additional instruments and materials can help you and your students achieve their goals in your classroom. 

Option #1:

South Elem. Wish List #1 (May 12, 2012)

 

Qty.

Type of instrument

Brand

Cost each

Extended cost

Vendor

 

2

Soprano glockenspiels

Sonor

$185.00

$370.00

West Music of course!

#3

2

Alto glockenspiels

Sonor

$195.00

$390.00

West Music of course!

 

2

Fiberglass soprano xylophones

Sonor

$545.00

$1,090.00

West Music of course!

#1

2

Fiberglass tenor/alto xylophones

Sonor

$745.00

$1,490.00

West Music of course!

#2

1

Fiberglass bass xylophone

Sonor

$1,850.00

$1,850.00

West Music of course!

 

1

Tenor/alto metallophone

Sonor

$795.00

$795.00

West Music of course!

       

Total

$5,985.00

 

Additional thoughts…

Or maybe call West Music and ask if they will help us with a custom package of the above instrument for even greater savings!

Rationale for this wish list.

In the summer of 2011, I was able to take Level 1 Orff Schulwerk training at ABC University.  The above list of instruments would allow those new skills to be incorporated into every classroom. With an average of 26 students per class period, this assortment of instruments in addition to what is already in the classroom, allows every student the opportunity to play something every week.

Or perhaps you are interested in adding some drumming to your classroom…this is what your wish list might look like:

South Elem. Wish List #2 (May 12, 2012)

Qty.

Type of instrument

Brand

Cost each

Extended cost

Vendor

3

10" tunable/tubanos

Remo

$169.25

$507.75

West Music of course!

4

12" tunable/tubanos

Remo

$190.20

$760.80

West Music of course!

3

14" tunable/tubanos

Remo

$227.85

$683.55

West Music of course!

     

Total

$1,952.10

 

Additional thoughts…..

OR, would it be better if I purchase the West set of 12 Remo tunable tubanos and a Ngoma for $2392.35.  Let's go for that one!

 

Get your lists together now, so you’re always ready when anyone approaches you with some new source of money for your classroom! Remember the knowledgeable staff at West Music is ready and willing to create your ideal classroom any time. Just give us a call or send an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

To create your West Music Wishlist, please visit us online.


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Tags: wish list, classroom wish list, financial support, inventory, new instruments
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Orff, Classroom Furniture & Equipment, Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Folk, Kids & Movement, Live Sound & DJ, Music, Books & Resources, Recording & Software, Recorders
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Exciting products and a catalog retrospective
By Jordan Wagner
9/9/2011 11:29:00 AM  

West Music's Judy Pine and Melissa Blum walk us through a retrospective of past West Music catalogs, leading up to our brand-new 2011-2012 catalog. The catalog is jam-packed with 186 pages of products to nurture your student's musical education.

In addition, Judy and Melissa share their personal favorites from the catalog! For more information on these products--or to order--go to www.westmusic.com!


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Tags: West Music catalog, new catalog, catalog video blog, retrospective video blog
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Orff, Classroom Furniture & Equipment, Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Folk, Kids & Movement, Live Sound & DJ, Music, Books & Resources, Recording & Software, Recorders, Music Therapy
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Microphone Buying Guide
By Doug Ducey
12/7/2010 11:44:00 AM  

It used to be that the price of the mic was a direct reflection of it’s quality. In the past few years, many microphones are available at a much lower price and perform quite well for their intended application. Most of these lower priced mics copy the basic structure of their more expensive counterparts.

WHAT TYPE OF MICROPHONE IS BEST?

Before you can answer this question, you have to decide how you are going to use the mic. Will you use it for live vocal performances like in a band setting? Is it for recording? Will you use it to mic an instrument? Maybe you’d like a multi-purpose mic. Once you decide on the application of the microphone, you can narrow your search considerably.

WHAT DO THE SPECS MEAN?

If you get a basic understanding of the specs and terminology, selecting the right mic will ne an easier task. Take some time and read the following:

Polar Pattern GuidePOLAR PATTERN: The polar pattern is the shape of a mic’s field of sensitivity or the directions from which the mic accepts or ignores incoming sound. An omnidirectional microphone responds to sounds coming from all directions. A bidirectional mic picks up sounds from east and west while excludinf sounds from the north and south. A unidirectional mic hears sounds from one direction and ignores sounds from other directions.

The most common microphones are unidirectional and they come in three polar patterns: cardioid, super cardioid, and hypercardioid. All three are patterns that reject sounds coming from behind the mic or from the sides. The cardioid pattern is roughly a heart shape, which makes the mic more sensitive to sounds coming from straight on or from the sides, but rejects sounds 180 degrees opposite the direction the mic is pointed. Supercardioid microphones accept accepts a little more sound from a 180 degree direction, but rejects more from each side. The hypercardioid allows yet more sound from 180 degrees, but rejects more of the sound coming from 90 or 270 degrees.

Polar patterns for these types of microphones are very important if you use the mic in a noisy setting like a singer’s mic in a band setting. The cardioid, supercardioid and hypercardioid mics will tend to exclude all sounds except the singer’s voice which results in a less “muddied” sound and allows more gain before feedback occurs.

Some condenser microphones are multi pattern and their polar pattern can be changed either by means of a switch or by interchangeable capsules from one pattern to another-from omni to cardioid, for example. Having a mic with this feature makes for a much more versatile microphone, especially in the recording studio.

FREQUENCY RESPONSE: This is the range of frequencies from low to high that a microphone will respond to. These frequencies are stated as a range such as 80hz to 15khz. A good vocal mic would have a frequency response in this range. If you needed a mic for miking snare drums and toms, look for a mic with a range that starts around 50hz. Lower sounds like a kick drum a low end of 30hz to 40hz is desirable.

RESPONSE CURVE: Frequency response only tells you the range a mic can reproduce, but the response curve refers to the shape of it’s frequency responsiveness. Starting at zero on the low end and dropping off at zero on the high end, it takes the form of a curve when applied to a graph. In this curve there will be peaks and dips at certain frequencies that give the microphone a certain character, thus making it more suited for certain applications.

EXAMPLE: A mic intended for vocals may have a spike in it’s upper midrange, thus resulting in a smoother more intelligible sound reproduction.

Frequency Graph

SPL and Sensitivity: How quiet a sound a mic can pick up is referred to as the mic’s sensitivity. Since a microphone’s sensitivity is measured by different systems, for the less experienced user it is probably enough to know that the lower the number, the more sensitive a microphone is. SPL stands for sound pressure level and is expressed in dBs. A mic’s SPL describes the maximum volume of sound that the mic can handle. In a way, this is the opposite of sensitivity. This is of the utmost importance if the mic must deal with loud instruments. Average SPL level is around 100dB and a high SPL is 130dB.

In addition to the specs there are other factors that determine the characteristics of microphones. Manufacturing precision can affect a mic’s performance. As a result of this, some of the lesser expensive microphones aren’t consistent in their sound reproduction. How the mic is built and the kind of metal used also effect a microphone’s performance. Listening to similar microphones is the best way to choose the one best suited to your needs.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MICROPHONES AND HOW ARE THEY USED?

Microphones usually fall into one of two categories: Dynamic or Condenser. Dynamic mics do not require a power source, while condenser mics do. Further explanation of this follows, so pay particular attention to this next segment.

DYNAMIC MICROPHONES: Dynamic mic’s usually have a high SPL capacity. They are extremely rugged and have a polar pattern that rejects off-axis sounds. Since they have internal shockmounting, they tend to be used for live sound applications like vocals and instrument miking, but some are also used for recording. (The Shure SM57 has been a staple of both the studio and the stage for a long time.) Dynamic mics are usually affordable, and additionally, many manufacturers have introduced economy series mics that offer great performance at a budget friendly price.

Sm58 sm58 Microphone

Dynamic microphones use an inductive coil connected to a diaphragm that’s placed within the field of a permanent magnet. As the diaphragm moves, it moves the coil, thus varying the voltage the coil produces.

CONDENSER MICROPHONES: A condenser mic will have either an external power supply, use phantom power or have internal batteries. Newer mixers will have phantom power, but if you have an older mixer, check to see if it has phantom power before buying a condenser microphone. If the mixer does not have phantom power, free standing external phantom power units can be purchased to accommodate condenser microphones.

While most condenser mics are used for recording, there are some that are used for live sound applications such as miking pianos and acoustical string instruments. Other applications include overhead miking of choirs and cymbals.

Many condenser microphones have roll-off and attenuation switches used to enhance a certain mic’s versatility. The roll-off switch alters the frequency range, usually on the low end, reducing response or cutting it off below a certain level. This is used in live situations to reduce low-end rumble and to increase an amplifier’s efficiency. Lots of amplifiers don’t produce very low end sounds, but they use up power trying to. Rolling off the bass keeps the PA power amp from having to deal with frequencies that are below it’s capability. In recording, rolling off the bass results in added clarity. Attenuation switches alter a mic’s sensitivity or volume, so that high volume sources won’t overload the microphone.

Large Diaphragm MicLARGE DIAPHRAGM CONDENSER MICS: These mics have diaphragms from three quarters to an inch in diameter. They are very sensitive and require external power and shock mounts. Since they are large and so sensitive, they are unsuited for miking live performances, but are excellent for recording voices and many instruments. These can be very expensive, but recently many manufacturers have been producing more affordable large diaphragm condensers designed like the expensive models and work quite well for nonprofessional recording.

Small Diaphragm Mic

SMALL DIAPHRAGM CONDENSER MICROPHONES: These do especially well in reproducing higher frequency sounds and sound sources that change quickly in volume. They have a diaphragm that is one-half inch or less in diameter and are used in both recording and live performance applications. They require phantom power or a battery to operate. These are well suited for overhead miking of cymbals.

SHOTGUN MICROPHONES: This style of mic has a narrow and extended polar pattern. They are used mainly for broadcasting because they excel at picking up specific sound sources from a distance. Pic of shotgun mic

SUMMARY: Do as much research as you can before purchasing a microphone. Most manufacturer’s web sites are full of information and specs on their products. You’ll be amazed, and maybe a little confused with all the choices available, so take your time when choosing a microphone. For further assistance contact any West Music store and one of our knowledgeable Associates will be glad to assist you.

(FOR INFORMATION ON WIRELESS MICROPHONES CHECK OUT OUR “WIRELESS MIC BUYING GUIDE” )


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Tags: Microphone Guide, Microphone Tips, Microphone, Polar Pattern, Product Guide, Microphone Help, Frequency Response, Responsive Curve, SPL and Sensitivity, Dynamic Microphones, Condenser Microphones, Small Diagram Condenser Microphones, Shotgun Microphones
Categories: Live Sound & DJ, Recording & Software, Live Sound, Recording & Software
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StudioLive Digital Mixer Quick Review
By John Waltz
10/8/2010 3:57:00 AM  

When Presonus came out with the StudioLive Digital Mixer last year, sure I was interested.  2K  for a 16 channel all digital mixer, compressors and limiters on each (!!) channel, built-in effects, Firewire recording, etc.  But it wasn’t until the rep came around to our store with one that I really got excited. 

Cut to the chase.  If you know somewhat of how an analog mixing console works, this new digital mixer is a PIECE OF CAKE to operate.  Things I like?  Variable (instead of a fixed button) high-pass filter so you can dial out the proximity effect of a vocal mic.  Or get the kick drum rumble out of that bottem-miked snare.  The control surface (faders, buttons, indicators) is professional to the eye and touch.  It is dead quiet.  Crank up some tunes on the PA and then hit “Mute.”  You will be stunned!

Stop into the store and let Scott or I show it off for you!


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Tags: StudioLive Digital Mixer, StudioLive Products, StudioLive Mixer, Digital Mixer, Recording Products, StudioLive Recording Products
Categories: Recording & Software
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Academic Status for Software Pricing
By Kyle Ware
8/18/2010 4:09:00 PM  

If you are thinking about ordering software and were wondering what the difference is between Academic/Educational pricing and Professional or Retail pricing, you have come to the right place.

If the software says it is an Academic/Educational version or price, most likely it is the same program that you are looking for, but at a reduced price for educators, students or churches. In order to qualify for this price, you must supply us with proof of your Academic status.  For more information, I have provided a chart of what you need to give us in order for you to purchase this software.

If the software says it is a Professional or Retail version/price, this is the full price and does not need any qualifications for purchase.  Most of the time this is the same version as the Academic/Educational version.

I keep saying most of the time, because software is constantly changing and there are titles out there that do have different versions. 

If you are unsure of what titles this applies to, please give us a call at 1-800-397-9378 and ask to speak to Kyle (me) or email me at kware@westmusic.com for more information. You will also see a blurb on the product pages here at westmusic.com that will tell you we need proof of Academic status.

Status

 

You must be

 

You must provide

 

 

 

 

 

College or University  

 

Fully accredited, non-profit, with music degree program

 

Institutional purchase order or institutional check

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-College K-12

 

Fully accredited & non-profit

 

Institutional PO or check

 

 

 

 

 

College Student or High School Student

 

Currently enrolled as a full time student in a degree program at a college or university as defined above

 

A current school photo ID and a current school fee statement

 

 

 

 

 

Music Educator

 

Currently teaching at a College/University or pre-college K-12 as described above

 

A letter verifying current employment on original school letterhead from the school administration

 

 

 

 

 

Public or Private Music Teacher

 

A current member of: MTNA, MENC, or a MENC allied association (listed below)

 

Proof of current association membership (current membership card or letter of acceptance)

 

 

 

 

 

Church, Synagogue, Music Minister, or Music Ministry Representative

 

Non-profit with a separate house of worship, or currently employed by a church or other religious institution in their music dept.

 

Proof of non-profit status and tax exempt number and a letter on official letterhead defining the buyer as the church's official music ministry representative

MENC Allied Organizations: American Choral Directors Assn., American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, American Music Center, American Organists Guild, American String Teachers Assn., Chamber Music America, College Band Directors Assn., National Black Music Caucus, National School Orchestra Assn., International Assn. Of Jazz Educators, Kappa Kappa PSI, Tau Beta Sigma, National Assn. of College Wind & Percussion Instructors, National Assn. of Pastoral Musicians, National Band Assn., Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

In Canada: Canadian Band Assn., Canadian Music Educators Assn. or their respective Provincial organizations.

Limits on Purchase

  • Individuals may purchase only one (1) Educational/Academic Edition for their own use
  • Institutions may purchase more than one copy for internal use and may also purchase multi-packs in 5 unit quantities with site license included.
  • This product is intended for the use of the original purchaser only & may not be transferred.

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Tags: software pricing, academic pricing, educational pricing, professional pricing, retail pricing
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The West Music Blog presents articles, press releases and other information of interest to our local and wordwide customers.

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Urbandale Piano Gallery August 2013 Musician of the Month: Jonathan Ruth (1)
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2016
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2015
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Rhythm For Good
 



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