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Quad Cities November 2016 Teacher Feature: Merit Ringberg
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 10:00:00 AM  
Merit Ringberg has been playing saxophone for 34 years and has been teaching private saxophone, clarinet and oboe lessons for 27 years. She graduated with a Music Education degree (BEI) from Augustana College. Merit has played with numerous ensembles at Augustana and has performed on the Paula Sand Life Show multiple times. She previously taught band at Hampton Elementary/Middle School for 2 years. Merit has also been a saxophone judge for IMEA. She has also played with the Quad City Wind Ensemble and currently plays with the Maple City Community Band. Merit has previously taught woodwinds at Augustana College, Griggs Music and now West Music. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her family, going to concerts and reading.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Merit Ringberg through November!


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Tags: quad, lessons, teacher, sax, saxophone, clarinet, oboe
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities August 2016 Musician of the Month: Gabriella "GG" Gilbert
By West Music Company
8/2/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Gabriella "GG" Gilbert has been taking piano lessons with Deb Story for six years. She started with piano and soon switched to vocal. It was definitely her calling. Since then, she has done everything from learning the correct pronunciation of latin, to singing Disney to Gwen Stefani to country music. Right now, she is working on becoming a tribal law lawyer. She is in her sophomore year at Scott Community College.

This winter, Gabriella is auditioning for The Voice. She advises all musicians to work really hard. When it gets complicated, keep going. But more importantly, to look past your ego. She says that yes, she is really talented, but there is always more to learn and it's very important to be able to admit that to yourself and to others. 

"GG Has a great work and practice ethic.  She's always ready.  Her range is amazing.  She dedicates herself to music 110% all the time."

Congratulations, Gabriella!

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Tags: piano lessons, deb story, vocal, practice
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities July 2016 Teacher Feature: Melinda Leasman
By West Music Company
7/6/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Melinda Leasman has been teaching piano and violin since 2010. In 2011 she began teaching at QC Rock Academy and in 2012, she received her BA in music from St. Ambrose and began teaching here at West Music Quad Cities. She started playing piano when she was 8, and when she was 10, she started violin. She is currently working as a Dental Assistant for MyoTech Dental. She also is playing keys in a band called Tambourine. 

When asked about her hobbies and interests, she responded “Raising my beautiful daughter Alita. Spending as much time outside as possible: Hiking, kayaking, long walks on the... Wait never mind I live in Iowa. “ 

She is very excited about the opportunity to see Paul McCartney live in August and hopes it will be as inspirational as seeing Aretha Franklin wailing it out on stage in Sioux City in 2015. Melinda is quirky, outgoing and very fun.  She loves teaching and works hard to make her student love what they do. She loves that moment when the student’s eyes light up and they really grasp a new concept or technique for the first time and how they really fall in love with their instrument as they progress and understand their instrument.

You can find Melinda on Facebook at Facebook.com/leasmanmusic. 

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Tags: melinda leasman, piano, violin, teacher, instructor, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities June 2016 Musician of the Month: Don Kappaert
By West Music Company
6/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Don Kappaert first tried guitar when he was very young.   Eventually, his parents encouraged him to join band instead.  He tried clarinet and could not stop thinking about that guitar.  He loved it.  As time went on, he went about his life as most people do.  He works at John Deere as an IT manager, runs triathlons, does woodworking, kayaks, bikes, swims, and anything else that keeps him moving.  His passion for acoustic guitar was reinvigorated and he encouraged his two sons to take guitar lessons.   About a year and a half ago, after they had lost interest, he decided to take out his very first guitar and have at it.  "I'm finishing a challenge...I know I can do it if I work hard enough." So he enrolled with lessons with Dana Starkell. 

Don's passion and hard work is why we have nominated him for Musician of the Month.  Every week, he shows up a half hour to an hour early to practice in the hall or in a studio or wherever he can sit and play.  It's truly amazing.  Even with a full time job at John Deere, running five miles every day and everything else he does on the daily, he still manages to find time to practice at least an hour and a half each day, and on weekends up to three hours in a day! 

When asked what his advice to other musicians is, he responded with "You just gotta love it.  If you don't love it, don't do it."  
His musical goals are to really focus on the musicality and "Go as far as I can as fast as I can."  He is incredibly driven and his favorite part is learning the bare bones of a song or a technique and turning it into a song.  He finds it easy and worth while to find time to practice because he sees how all of it pays off.  

"With the energy and curiosity of a teenager his 1/2 hour lesson seems to fly by in about five minutes. Don’s a shining example of what can be achieved with true determination and passion. Within a relatively short amount of time he has gone from beginner to musician."

Congratulations, Don!

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Tags: guitar, lessons, Dana Starkell,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities June 2016 Teacher Feature: Cole Guillien
By West Music Company
6/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Cole Guillien has just recently moved to the Quad Cities area, and he is very excited about the opportunities and adventures that are available in the area.  Cole is a performer and teacher who also plays the viola da gamba and baroque cello. He has served as Teaching Assistant for Dr. Janina Ehrlich, Associate Professor of Music at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. In this position, he maintained a private studio from 2006-2010 utilizing various pedagogies including Suzuki method as well as several other music teaching systems. He studied music history at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and had the opportunity to work with the Noyse Merchants, Catacoustic Consort, and the Cincinnati Bach Ensemble playing both baroque cello and the viola da gamba.  He has been a recipient of the Catacoustic Consort’s Early Music Scholarship. 

In the fall of 2015, Cole gave a lecture recital at Augustana College performing and describing examples of music for the viola da gamba.  It was music written hundreds of years ago for musicians to play in solitude for their own enjoyment.  Cole says "It reminded me of the joy music brings when you play it for yourself and no one else". Cole also enjoys cooking and baking.  He loves to discover the new flavors and the culture that comes with cooking different styles of food.  

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Cole Guillien through June!


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Tags: cole guillien, cello, viola, baroque,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities March 2016 Teacher Feature: Wes Weeber
By West Music Company
3/1/2016 8:01:00 AM  
Wes Weeber has been a full-time professional musician for over 15 years. He has studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and in the private hands of Virgil Donati, Mike Mangini, Terry Hanson and Edgar Crockett.  He has been teaching for 17 years and has taught at West Music Quad Cities for 12 of them.

Currently, Wes is the founder/vocalist/core songwriter for Drama Major. Wes also leads a high energy top 40 outfit called Wes Weeber’s Broke*ss Sellouts and is the singer for the acoustic duo The Chris & Wes Show.

Wes currently maintains a 30+ student per week schedule teaching drum set, percussion and college prep. He is also averaging as much as averaging 150+ performances per year. He believes in catering to the educational needs and desires of each student as an individual.  He is excited to announce his newest project of creating his own online teaching facility that will be an extension to his West Music Quad Cities studio.

In addition to his busy teaching schedule, Wes enjoys playing football, reading, practicing, writing and spending time with his kids.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Wes Weeber through March!


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Tags: wes weeber, berklee, percussion, drum
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities February 2016 Musician of the Month: Pete Mills
By West Music Company
2/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Pete Mills attends Pleasant Valley High School and is in his junior year.  He has been taking trumpet lessons from Steve Little here at West Music Quad Cities for six years.  Steve says "Pete works hard. He loves music".  Pete love jazz and lists his interests as "jazz, jazz, jazz, etc"! Pete's musical goals include playing in a big marching band and really great jazz band.  His advice to other musicians is to "use the internet to your advantage, listen to everything!"  Pete's favorite musicians are Al Hirt, Snarky Puppy, and Benny Carter.

At school, Pete is involved in with the National Honor Society, tennis, and plays with the SEIBA Honor Band and Honor Jazz Band.  Additionally, Pete participates in Boy Scouts. He also enjoys cheering on the Packers. 

Congratulations, Pete!




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Tags: pete mills, steve little, National Honor Society, SEIBA, Honor Band, honor jazz band
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities January 2016 Musician of the Month: Maddux Dieckman
By West Music Company
1/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Maddux Dieckman is in 5th grade and has been taking piano lessons with Clara Nielsen here at West Music Quad Cities for five years.  His goals for his lessons are to play really challenging songs, really well, by practicing a lot! His favorite part about playing music is the sounds he makes.  He feels very proud of himself when he plays a song really well for someone.  Maddux's advice to other musicians is to practice a lot! He says "If you don't like the way it sounds when you play it, find out why and practice some more!"

Outside of music, Maddux stays busy by playing baritone in band, baseball, and science club.  He recently made water power rockets and paper rockets there!  Additionally, Maddux loves playing video games like Minecraft, Terria, and Call of Duty.  He also enjoys reading about mythology and non-fiction articles that he has to read in class. His favorite musicians are Coldplay and AC/DC

Something that may surprise you to learn about Maddux is that he has been wearing contacts for almost a year.

Congratulations, Maddux! Great job!

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Tags: Maddux Dieckman, Clara Nielsen,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities January 2016 Teacher Feature: Jenni Pickering
By West Music Company
1/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Jenni started playing viola at 9, and added violin in high school. She also played clarinet from 5th grade through high school and was always involved in choir, even beginning at Augustana as a vocal performance major.

Jenni taught privately out of her home through high school and then at West Music beginning in her junior year of college at Augustana, so she’s been teaching at West Music since fall of 2005. She doubled majored in Music and English at Augustana College in Rock Island and graduated in 2007 with her BA.

Jenni teaches full time and also volunteers regularly with Calling All Crows, a nonprofit humanitarian organization based out of Boston that focuses on women’s rights and gender equality. She also currently plays with the Clinton Symphony, as well as various quartet and chamber work. She has been part of symphonies, classical chamber ensembles, celtic fiddle ensembles, and even played bluegrass fiddle and violin with various bands and local artists.

Jenni loves reading, snuggling with her three kitties (Applesauce, Parmesan, and Badminton), spending time with her husband, Gordon, and (hula)hooping with QC Flow Arts, local flow groups, and friends who also love to hoop dance, as well as hoop making. She also lives for live music - you can pretty much always find her at a show when she has the night off!

Recently Jenni staffed the Calling All Crows booth at Bonnaroo, traveled to New York to see her favorite band, DISPATCH, and participate in the service projects planned through Calling All Crows for DISPATCH: Hunger (addressing Hunger issues here in the United States), and she is traveling to Boston for the first time ever in December to help work the Calling All Crows Annual Benefit Weekend.

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Tags: Jenni Pickering, Augustana College, Calling All Crows, Clinton Symphony, QC Flow Arts,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities December 2015 Teacher Feature: Jenni Pickering
By West Music Company
12/1/2015 8:00:00 AM  
Jenni started playing viola at 9, and added violin in high school. She also played clarinet from 5th grade through high school and was always involved in choir, even beginning at Augustana as a vocal performance major.

Jenni taught privately out of her home through high school and then at West Music beginning in her junior year of college at Augustana, so she’s been teaching at West Music since fall of 2005. She doubled majored in Music and English at Augustana College in Rock Island and graduated in 2007 with her BA.

Jenni teaches full time and also volunteers regularly with Calling All Crows, a nonprofit humanitarian organization based out of Boston that focuses on women’s rights and gender equality. She also currently plays with the Clinton Symphony, as well as various quartet and chamber work. She has been part of symphonies, classical chamber ensembles, celtic fiddle ensembles, and even played bluegrass fiddle and violin with various bands and local artists.

Jenni loves reading, snuggling with her three kitties (Applesauce, Parmesan, and Badminton), spending time with her husband, Gordon, and (hula)hooping with QC Flow Arts, local flow groups, and friends who also love to hoop dance, as well as hoop making. She also lives for live music - you can pretty much always find her at a show when she has the night off!

Recently Jenni staffed the Calling All Crows booth at Bonnaroo, traveled to New York to see her favorite band, DISPATCH, and participate in the service projects planned through Calling All Crows for DISPATCH: Hunger (addressing Hunger issues here in the United States), and she is traveling to Boston for the first time ever in December to help work the Calling All Crows Annual Benefit Weekend.



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Tags: Jenni Pickering, Augustana College, Calling All Crows, Clinton Symphony, QC Flow Arts,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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