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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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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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Urbandale May 2016 Musicican of the Month: Kaylyn Jensen
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:05:00 AM  
Kaylyn is in 6th grade at Summit Middle School, she has studied piano with Janet Winship at the Des Moines Piano Gallery for two years. Janet says about Kaylyn: "Kaylyn has never missed a lesson. She treats each day of practice as an opportunity to become a better musician than she was the day before. Kaylyn has participated 5 times over the past year in recitals and piano festivals. She performs with a confidence and artistry that is delightful to her audience and inspiring to other piano players. Simply put - Kaylyn uses her head and always plays from the heart."

Kaylyn's goals are to play more advanced music as she gets older, like the original Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata. Her advice to other musicians is to challenge yourself with challenging pieces. She says she loves playing music because "it lets me be creative and discover new things about myself."

Kaylyn also plays the trombone, and is involved in soccer, basketball, softball, and track. She is involved in TSA (Technology Student Association) and enjoys gardening, cooking, skiing. reading, sports, science, and history. Her favorite music genres are classical and movie/game theme songs.

Some things you may be suprised to learn about Kaylyn is that she's skied in the Rocky Mountains and started her own vegetable garden.

Great job, Kaylyn! Keep up the good work!

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Tags: Janet Winship, piano gallery, urbandale, piano, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Des Moines Piano Gallery April 2016 Musician of the Month: Eleanor Meek
By West Music Company
4/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Eleanor Meek is a piano student at West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery. She has been taking lessons with Paige Pederson for 1 1/2 years!

Eleanor says her musical goal is "to play at my local church someday, and maybe learn the violin". Her advide to other musicians is "even if you think the instrument you are playing is hard, keep going. It will make more sense and you will love it more."

When asked what she loves about music, she says "I love the fact that if you love it so much and focus, you can make beautiful music."

Outside of music, Eleanor participates in dance and church group. Her interests include horses, animals and reading, and she dislikes broccoli! Her favorite artists are Crowder, Matthew West, and Shawn Mendes.  She also likes hip-hop and Christian music. It may suprise you to learn that  Eleanor is an only child.

Her teacher, Paige Pederson, says: "Eleanor is a joy to work with every week! She is always pushing herself to be a better musician and has even set a goal to finish the next level by the end of the summer!"

Great job, Eleanor! Keep up the good work!

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Tags: Paige Pederson, piano, lessons,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Urbandale March 2016 Teacher Feature: Asia Brutian-Grant
By West Music Company
3/1/2016 8:01:00 AM  
Asia Brutian-Grant was born in Yerevan, Armenia to a musical family. Her father was professional cellist, and her grandmother was professional pianist and composer. Her father’s family included professional  musicians, artists, and sculptors. The Arshak Brutian Music School in Gumri, Armenia was named after her great-grandfather.

Asia began her education at the P.I. Tchaikovsky Special Music School for Gifted Children. Her musical training since first grade was heavily focused on technique, tone, articulation, the art of performance, theory, and music critique. After graduating with a Bachelors of Music degree she was accepted into the Komitas Armenian State Conservatory. She studied under Anahit Bogdanian, who was a pupil of the legendary Professor Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatory. While in school, Asia performed numerous solos, with chamber ensembles, orchestras, and stood out for her musicality and a unique tone. She completed her Doctorate in Piano Pedagogy at the Komitas Armenian State Conservatory.

Dr. Grant continued teaching at Music Schools in Yerevan, and also at the Jazz Studio of the Ministry of Culture, Yerevan, Armenia. Asia is one of the most sought-after piano instructors. Under her tutelage students have won competitions, and were prepared to be accepted to Conservatory. Upon moving to USA, she was performing with solo and duo concerts. She was immediately in high demand to instruct Master Classes. She has been a resident of Sioux Falls, SD since 1994.

Dr. Grant has served as a President for Sioux Falls Area of Music Teachers Association (SFAMTA), and is an active MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) member. Has volunteered with Solo Piano Concerts for the Good Samaritan, and Dow Rummel Villages, and has performed monthly solos at Lincoln Hills Bible Church.

In March 2012 Asia founded the annual Grant Piano Competition. Students from Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas are rewarded cash prizes. The goal of the Annual Grant Piano Competition is to give the young pianist an opportunity to sharpen their performing skills and reward them for their hard work.

Asia speaks fluent English, Armenian, Russian, and some Spanish.

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Tags: P.I. Tchaikovsky Special Music School for Gifted Children, Arshak Brutian Music School in Gumri, Komitas Armenian State Conservatory, Anahit Bogdanian, Lev Naumov, Moscow Conservatory, Piano Pedagogy, Komitas Armenian State Conservatory, Jazz Studio of the Ministry of Culture, Sioux Falls Area of Music Teachers Association, SFAMTA, MTN, Music Teachers National Association,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Urbandale March 2016 Musician of the Month: Mikayla Jensen
By West Music Company
3/1/2016 8:01:00 AM  
Mikayla Jensen has been studying piano with Janet Winship for 2 years at the West Music Piano Gallery in Urbandale. She is in 5th grade and also plays the flute. Janet says "Mikayla does not shy away from the work that needs to be done to achieve a beautiful sound and welcomes music that challenges her abilities with a cheerful and hopeful attitude. She is a delight to teach."

Mikayla's other musical goals include learning to play the guitar. Her advice to other musicians is that music is something you can do at any age, so don't give up. Mikayla is involved in her school's band, plays in piano festivals, plays basketball, and swims. She also likes to sing, play video games, and draw. Mikayla's favorite styles of music are jazz, pop, and country.

It may suprise you to learn that Mikayla has traveled to Colorado and went body surfing in the Gulf of Mexico!

Congratulations, Mikayla! Great job!

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Tags: janet winship, piano gallery
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Urbandale August 2015 Teacher Feature: Asia Brutian-Grant
By West Music Company
8/1/2015 10:00:00 AM  
Asia Brutian-Grant was born in Yerevan, Armenia to a musical family. Her father was professional cellist, and her grandmother was professional pianist and composer. Her father’s family included professional  musicians, artists, and sculptors. The Arshak Brutian Music School in Gumri, Armenia was named after her great-grandfather.

Asia began her education at the P.I. Tchaikovsky Special Music School for Gifted Children. Her musical training since first grade was heavily focused on technique, tone, articulation, the art of performance, theory, and music critique. After graduating with a Bachelors of Music degree she was accepted into the Komitas Armenian State Conservatory. She studied under Anahit Bogdanian, who was a pupil of the legendary Professor Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatory. While in school, Asia performed numerous solos, with chamber ensembles, orchestras, and stood out for her musicality and a unique tone. She completed her Doctorate in Piano Pedagogy at the Komitas Armenian State Conservatory.

Dr. Grant continued teaching at Music Schools in Yerevan, and also at the Jazz Studio of the Ministry of Culture, Yerevan, Armenia. Asia is one of the most sought-after piano instructors. Under her tutelage students have won competitions, and were prepared to be accepted to Conservatory. Upon moving to USA, she was performing with solo and duo concerts. She was immediately in high demand to instruct Master Classes. She has been a resident of Sioux Falls, SD since 1994.

Dr. Grant has served as a President for Sioux Falls Area of Music Teachers Association (SFAMTA), and is an active MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) member. Has volunteered with Solo Piano Concerts for the Good Samaritan, and Dow Rummel Villages, and has performed monthly solos at Lincoln Hills Bible Church.

In March 2012 Asia founded the annual Grant Piano Competition. Students from Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas are rewarded cash prizes. The goal of the Annual Grant Piano Competition is to give the young pianist an opportunity to sharpen their performing skills and reward them for their hard work.

Asia speaks fluent English, Armenian, Russian, and some Spanish.



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Tags: P.I. Tchaikovsky Special Music School for Gifted Children, Arshak Brutian Music School in Gumri, Komitas Armenian State Conservatory, Anahit Bogdanian, Lev Naumov, Moscow Conservatory, Piano Pedagogy, Komitas Armenian State Conservatory, Jazz Studio of the Ministry of Culture, Sioux Falls Area of Music Teachers Association, SFAMTA, MTN, Music Teachers National Association,
Categories: West Music Piano Gallery, Music Education
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Urbandale July 2015 Musician of the Month: Jessica Seim
By West Music Company
7/1/2015 10:06:00 AM  
Jessica is in 5th grade at North Ridge Elementary. She has been a piano student of Janet Winship at the West Music Piano Gallery in Urbandale for nine months. Her musical goal is to join a band and maybe learn another instrument someday. Her advice to other musicians is to keep trying and if it doesn't sound right just keep practicing.

Jessica loves the feeling of playing music and how the tempo moves her.

Aside from music, Jessica participates in Curtain Call Kids and Karate. Her hobbies include acting, singing, and drawing. She says she dislikes that some kids get bullied just because they're different. Her favorite music is pop and jazz.

You might be suprised to learn that Jessica is actually from Nevada. When she was younger she would go to Disney Land a lot!

Congratulations, Jessica! Great job!

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Tags: jessica seim, north ridge elementary, janet winship, piano gallery
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery, Music Education
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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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Urbandale May 2015 Teacher Feature: Jiamin Liao
By West Music Company
5/1/2015 3:20:00 PM  
I currently teach Group Piano at the University of Northern Iowa, Waterloo (and surrounding) Community Schools, and teach privately through the Community Music School on the UNI campus. I am very excited to join the Faculty at West Music-Urbandale.

When I was a child, my mom played the piano. I was so captivated by the sound of the piano that my Dad decided to let me have a try. So, I was sent to a local piano instructor at the age of five, and I have never stopped playing since then.

Formal Education:
2012 – 2014 Master of Piano Performance and Pedagogy, The University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa
2009 – 2012 Bachelor of Music Studies (Majoring in piano), The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

I am a member of DMMTA (Des Moines Music Teachers Association), IMTA (Iowa Music Teachers Association) and the MTNA (Music Teachers National Association).

In September, I performed a duet at the University of Northern Iowa for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. The piece I played was Castle in the Sky, by Joe Hisaishi, and my partner was a graduate student major in violin performance at UNI. This performance was an entirely different experience from my usual gigs or recitals. The piece was easier to play, and the performance was less formal. Yet, the joyful experience we were able to bring the audience was not any less than any of the formal concerts I have performed at. This performance particularly reminded me the role of a pianist; after all the hard work and time spent on improving the techniques and the skills, we musicians play to please and to share the spirit of each music with the audience.

I enjoy watching movies (horror, action and comedy) and TV shows like Supernatural, singing and listening to music; I am a big fan of Iowa Public Radio Classical!

This past June, I gave a presentation with my colleague at the Minnesota Music Teachers Association. The presentation was about the service learning project we started together in September 2013. The project aimed to provide a musical experience by offering free piano lessons twice a week to local elementary school students. This project exposed me to a new experience of teaching younger students in group settings, and I learned that working in such circumstances is not only about teaching piano but also about coping with the students' behaviors. The presentation offered us a great opportunity to share this experience with other music teachers.

Teaching is like an experiment,as we are all different. Some strategies may be effective for some students but not for the others. As a piano teacher, I enjoy the process of discovering the best strategies and designing individualized lesson plans for each student. I feel pleasant and satisfied when I am able to help my students achieve effective outcomes.

My graduate recital must be the most interesting and educational experience I have had recently. My usual approach to stage fright was to prepare well before-hand and then concentrate on the music during the performance. However, I have never had any good solutions dealing with the fright occurred on stage; when I had a memory slip or made a mistake during the piece, I tended to become nervous immediately. I finally discussed this issue with my piano teacher, and he suggested me the following:

When we have a memory slip or make a mistake on stage, we may feel like there is a 'guy' blaming us or laughing at us. Well, tell that guy that you will talk to him later, but for now you want to concentrate on the music.

So, I practiced this "let go" attitude besides the instrument before the recital, and the result was great. I made a few small mistakes on stage, but the process went so smooth that most of the audience did not realize that I repeated or skipped a few notes. Since then I have also been incorporating this approach into teaching my students. This approach keeps me and my students reminded that while we are on stage, the notes we just played, good or bad, are gone forever. The only thing that matters is to do our best to play well the rest of the piece.


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Tags: jiamin liao, urbandale piano gallery, DMMTA, Des Moines Music Teachers Association, IMTA, Iowa Music Teachers Association, MTNA, Music Teachers National Association. iowa public radio classical
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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Urbandale May 2015 Musician of the Month: Calvin Braaten
By West Music Company
5/1/2015 9:25:00 AM  
Calvin is a 6th grader at Urbandale Middle School. He has been taking piano lessons with Mary Fitzgerald for two years now. Mary says Calvin deserves recognition for finishing his recital piece and doing a great job each week! Calvin says “I like showing the music I play to my friends and family.”

When not playing the piano, Calvin plays soccer in the spring and football in the fall. His favorite musician is Mozart.

It may surprise you to learn that Calvin played little league football for four years; two seasons his team lost almost all of their games, and two seasons they were undefeated until the championship!

Congratulations, Calvin! Keep up the good work!

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Tags: calvin braaten, Mary Fitzgerald, urbandale piano gallery
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery
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