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The West Music Blog
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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 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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Jeremy Jacobs - Cedar Rapids' New Luthier Extraordinaire
By West Music Company
2/10/2017 9:14:00 AM  
Jeremy JacobsWest Music is proud to introduce its newest luthier, Jeremy Jacobs!  Jeremy has set up shop at West Music Cedar Rapids and has already gotten to work fixing guitars and other stringed instruments from around the community. Along with Bruce Vanderschel and Kevin Halbrooks in Coralville and Tony Carducci in Quad Cities, Jeremy is a key player in our fretted instrument repair team!

Jeremy is a Marion, IA native who describes music as his passion.  He has been fixing guitars since his days at Linn-Mar High School, and kicked off his professional career almost a decade ago as a guitar repair tech at Guitar Center. He is Expert Level Certified in many types of fretted instrument repair including restrings/setups, basic and advanced wiring, structural repair, and fret work.  While Jeremy will admit the guitar is his favorite instrument (he owns several Les Pauls, Explorers and Flying Vs), he can repair or setup almost anything with strings, including orchestral instruments such as violins and cellos. 

Jeremys GuitarsJeremy is also a professional musician in his own right. He has performed on electric guitar alongside some of the greatest musicians in the Cedar Rapids area and has recorded with several local bands. The two main guitars he uses on stage are ones he built himself! He started off with just a blank body and neck, and assembled them using spare parts he was able to find. He even drew his own designs on them using a Sharpie.
When asked what made him excited about being at West Music, he answered getting to be on the same team as people like Bruce, Kevin and Tony. Bruce is known for his incredible ability to fix and refinish older, more delicate guitars, and Kevin and Tony have both created one-of-kind instruments for professional musicians.

Jeremy gives the following instrument care tips to any string player out there. First, it’s important to humidify your stringed instrument in dry weather.  Second, if you are bringing your instrument in from the cold, let it warm up before playing.  Finally, bring your guitar and other stringed instruments to him for regular maintenance!

If you’re interested in getting your strings fixed by Jeremy or any of our luthiers, please give us a call or complete our Fetted Instrument Repair Form.


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Categories: West Music Marion
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Cedar Rapids January 2017 Musician of the Month: Ian Wolverton-Weiss
By West Music Company
1/2/2017 3:09:00 PM  
Ian Wolverton-Weiss is an 8th grader in the community and is a clarinet student of Bart Yates. He has studied clarinet with Bart for 1 ½ years.

Bart nominated Ian for Musician of the Month because, “Ian was accepted to IBA (an honor band for the best 8th grade players in the state) and has been playing very well. He is also a joy to teach.”

Ian’s musical goals are to be accepted to All State Band and Choir. His advice to other musicians is to have a positive attitude. Ian is in show choir, choir and soccer. He also enjoys participating in musicals. He likes Legos, biking, skiing and Star Wars. His favorite musician is Charlie Puth and Ian likes melodic piano music.

You might be surprised to learn that Ian went to school in London once and is the least picky eater he knows. He will eat anything!

Congratulations, Ian!

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Tags: Bart Yates, clarinet, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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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 Rapids November 2016 Teacher Feature: Ryan Swedean
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 10:00:00 AM  
Ryan Swedean has come to us to teach low brass from South Dakota. He started playing trumpet in 4th grade then switched to baritone. In high school he switched to tuba which he still plays with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. In college he switched to trombone.

Ryan has his degree Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance from the University of South Dakota. He has done graduate work in trombone performance at North Dakota State University. He is working on his Masters of Music in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and hopes to have it complete by August 2016.

Ryan subs in various districts around the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas.

He currently plays with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. Some groups Ryan has performed with in the past include the Beach Boys, Train and other classical and jazz artists.

His hobbies and interests include playing trombone, watching Netflix with his wife, and playing with his dog.

His favorite thing about teaching is seeing a student’s face when they make the real sound of their instrument. One of his most interesting educational experiences has been teaching in one of the poorest counties in the country.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Ryan Swedean through November!


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Cedar Rapids November 2016 Musician of the Month: Lizzie Leu
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Lizzie is a bass guitar and ukulele student of Billy Lee Janey and has been studying with him for two and a half years. Lizzie is a senior at Xavier High School.  Her musical goal is to finish her high school music career with Division 1 ratings in concert and marching bands. Her advice to other musicians is to "practice, but go into it thinking 'this is going to be fun not work!'” She is obsessed with how music can drastically affect the way you think and feel in a matter of minutes. "It’s a stress relief for me and overall feels better after a band rehearsal or music lesson."

Lizzie is involved in marching band, concert and jazz bands, show choir, and combo groups. She enjoys mock trials and tutoring in school. Her other interests include biking, reading, and camping. She likes to hang out at the Newbo Market area here in Cedar Rapids.

Her favorite musicians and composers include Joni Mitchell, Claude Debussy, and The Smiths.

You might be surprised to learn that Lizzie has an embarrassingly large collection of vinyl records!

Congratulations Lizzie! Keep up the great work!

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Tags: lessons, lesson, student, conservatory, bass guitar, ukulele, Billy Lee Janey
Categories: West Music Marion
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West Music Cedar Rapids To Host Grand Re-Opening Ceremony
By West Music Company
10/7/2016 9:27:00 AM  


Marion, IA – October 6, 2016
– West Music Cedar Rapids will host a Grand Re-Opening Ceremony on Thursday, October 6 beginning at 4:30 pm at West Music Cedar Rapids, located at 1398 Twixt Town Road in Marion, IA. The public is welcome to attend and enjoy refreshments as well as tours of the renovated storefront. Brief comments from Ryan West, Senior Vice President, will begin at 5:15 pm with a ribbon cutting following. Marion Chamber Ambassadors will assist with the event. For more information, contact Eric Douglas, West Music Cedar Rapids Store Manager at 319-377-9100 or edouglas@westmusic.com.

West Music recently rebranded and unveiled a new logo and brand guidelines, after close work with creative agency, North Forty. The West Music Cedar Rapids store is the first of seven locations that will receive renovations, including repainting, new exterior signage, and interior merchandising and displays. The entire company rebrand will take three years.


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Tags: re-opening, cedar rapids, marion
Categories: West Music Marion
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Cedar Rapids August 2016 Musician of the Month: Octavia Barbulescu
By West Music Company
8/2/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Octavia Barbulescu is a flute student of Laura Phillips. She is in the 9th grade at Linn Mar High School in Marion and has studied with Laura for only 15 months! Laura nominated Octavia for Musician of the Month because she is highly motivated and works hard, which results in progress from basics to fully advanced flute technique. She earns outstanding ratings at competitions and challenges herself to play the hardest parts well in ensembles.

Octavia's musical goal is to get into All State and the top band in her school. Her advice to other musicians is to love the instrument and music you play- and remember to practice and work hard. She loves getting attached to the music. It makes the music feel personal.

Octavia plays piano as well and plays flute at West Music’s annual Celtic Camp. Her hobbies include writing, reading and playing video games. Her favorite musicians are Mozart, Troge Sivan, Of Monsters and Men and Melanie Martinez.

Congratulations, Octavia!

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Tags: flute, laura phillips, Celtic Camp
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Rapids August 2016 Teacher Feature: Kari Sicard
By West Music Company
8/2/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Kari Sicard teaches voice and piano here at West Music Cedar Rapids. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Piano Performance from Wartburg College. Kari started playing piano when she was three. Her older brothers were all having lessons and she would copy them and practice their songs.

Kari has taught in the Central City Community School District as the K-5 music teacher from 1996-1998. She has taught at West Music since 1998. Currently Kari is the music director at King of Kings Lutheran Church. She plays and sings for weddings and funerals.

Kari loves teaching all ages because she loves sharing her love of music with others. Kari loves experiencing the moments when her students discover they can really make music! She says, “Everything is interesting when you are a teacher.”

In her down time Kari loves spending time with her two daughters, Grace and Hope.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Kari Sicard through August!


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