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Extraordinary Associate of the Month: Patrick Downing
By West Music Company
1/17/2018 3:49:00 PM  

Patrick DowningWhether face to face in the store, out on location, working the phone or feverishly typing on his computer keyboard, Patrick exemplifies true professionalism! He has quickly become the face of West Music Quad Cities piano division and works tirelessly to provide total customer satisfaction in each and every engagement.

Patrick’s vast product knowledge, keyboard talents, procedural proficiency, attention to detail, and “can do” attitude, delivers exceptional customer service in every single customer interaction. He expresses the same commitment from assisting one of his many regional piano teachers in selecting the perfect method book for a new student, to an institutional client selecting their next Yamaha Clavinova or Steinway grand piano!

Patrick has built a large community of piano educators, professional players, institutional leaders, students, parents and inspiring musicians and serves them all with complete integrity! He continuously exemplifies our core values through his advocating of music education, building of meaningful relationships and cultivating community! With an infectious smile, robust laugh, wittiness, charm and charisma, Patrick is quick to unleash one of his many impersonations or share a new joke with his coworkers to lighten their day and instantly put a smile on their face!

In my short tenure of managing the Moline location, it’s become clear to me, Patrick truly loves what he does! He demonstrates it each and every day through his actions, words, encouragement, and commitment to serve the Quad Cities music, music education and business community and well as his alma mater WIU!

As told by Ryan West,
Senior Vice President

Tags: patrick downing, piano, wiu, music education, lessons, quad cities, moline
Categories: West Music Quad Cities, Extraordinary Associate of the Month
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West Music’s Music Therapy Program Gives Back to Veteran
By West Music Company
11/6/2017 8:57:00 AM  

West Music’s Music Therapy Program Gives Back to Veteran

harper music therapy ptsdCoralville, IA – November 6, 2017 – KALA radio held a Fourth of July broadcast about Charles Harper, a Vietnam veteran who was invited to their station to transfer his old recordings into a digital format. As a young man, Harper was a proficient musician and received an opportunity to attend Julliard School of Music before he went to war. Upon his return, Harper struggled with rejection, racism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. He turned to music to help pull himself through. The recent KALA special was titled, Healing Harmonies: The Story of Charles Harper and aired July 4th, 2017.

harper with gift piano

In preparation for the special, KALA radio asked West Music's Music Therapy team to contribute insights about the services and benefits music therapy can provide. Kelly Carlson, West Music’s Director of Music Therapy, states, "The properties of music: melody, rhythm, dynamics, and lyrics all come together to help individuals dealing with PTSD relax, improve their self-esteem, provide moments of happiness and allow the individual to express themselves without using words. Often in music therapy, we play instruments so that individuals can express themselves without needing to put words to their feelings."

After the special aired, Harper sat down at a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano in the KALA Studio and his face lit up. He hadn’t played a note since 1992, but the music came right back. After witnessing Harper lost in the music, Johnna Kerres at KALA radio reached out to see if West Music would be willing to gift Harper a keyboard so he could start playing music for himself again. With their focus on playing music for life, West Music jumped at the chance to surprise Harper with his very own Clavinova that came from their Quad Cities store. Upon receiving this gift, he was overcome with happiness and began playing some of his original melodies.

Harper will perform on the piano at a special Veteran’s Day event at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA on November 9th at 6:00 p.m. and the special, Healing Harmonies: The Story of Charles Harper will air again on Friday, November 10th at 8 p.m. on 88.5 FM.

About West Music

West Music is a third-generation, locally-owned, and family-operated business. West Music has been the area’s leading partner specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra, and print music, as well as offering music education, music instruction, instrument repair, and music therapy services. With 7 retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education and percussion communities, West Music strives to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play now and play for life.

Tags: music therapy, 4th of july, veterans day, ptsd, piano, clavinova, quad cities
Categories: West Music Quad Cities, Music Therapy, Press Releases
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This St. Patrick's Day Discover Yamaha Hybrid Pianos
By Patrick Downing
3/7/2017 8:46:00 AM  

Have you ever played an acoustic concert grand piano with no strings? Or perhaps you've played a digital piano with a full acoustic piano action? Chances are, neither of these things have ever happened to you, but Yamaha has the perfect instruments for those who crave the realism of an acoustic piano, along with the benefits of a digital.

The Yamaha AvantGrand and Hybrid pianos offer the perfect balance of playing both an acoustic grand piano and a digital piano. These pianos are the only non-acoustic instruments in the world that employ real acoustic actions. These specially-designed piano actions allow for a more responsive playing experience than that of a digital piano, and replicate the touch and feel of an acoustic piano without the cost or maintenance of tuning, regulations, and voicing.

Join us for Musical Mornings on St. Patrick's Day, Friday March 17th, at 9am at West Music Quad Cities in Moline. West Music's Certified Piano Consultant Patrick Downing will lead a presentation all about the incredible technology and features of the Yamaha Hybrid pianos. See how these instruments truly are everything you need from a digital, and everything you want from an acoustic!

Who? Piano players and enthusiasts
 Yamaha Hybrid Pianos Presentation 
When? St. Patrick's Day Morning - Friday, March 17th at 9am
Where? West Music Quad Cities
Why? This is your chance to experience Yamaha Hybrid pianos! Discover the perfect balance of acoustic and digital performance.

Yamaha Hybrid Piano

Tags: N/A
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities 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.

Take lessons with Merit or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or learn more at Looking4Lesson.com and schedule your first class online! 

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!

Tags: piano lessons, deb story, vocal, practice
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities 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. 

Learn more about taking lessons! Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or visit looking4lessons.com to schedule your first class online.

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!

Tags: guitar, lessons, Dana Starkell,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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Quad Cities 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.  

Learn about taking lessons with Cole!

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.

Learn more about lessons with Wes!

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!

Tags: pete mills, steve little, National Honor Society, SEIBA, Honor Band, honor jazz band
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Quad Cities
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