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Why Choose Lessons for Your Child?
By Chris Eck
11/11/2017 11:12:00 AM  

Why Choose Lesson for Your Child?

child private lessonsEvery day we are surrounded by facts about the amazing life benefits of music education. A multitude of studies confirm that children experience extremely positive academic, emotional, and developmental boosts from engaging in musical activities. We embrace the fact that a healthy education not only includes music and the arts, but emphasizes them as a daily necessity. One additional way that parents can show our commitment to building a musical life for children is to work with independent professional teachers in a private, individualized lessons program.

Benefits to Private Lessons

While school music programs are a great starting point for young musicians, they cannot always provide the one-on-one instruction your child needs. Classroom teachers and directors must diversify their energy across a wide range of areas, while a private lessons instructor can work on specific goals with each student on an individualized path.

Private, individaul lessons with a qualified instructor can provide amazing progress, whether kids are preparing for honors groups on an orchestral instrument or building the skills they need to perform a favorite pop song. Also, a private music teacher acts as a role model for young learners. They can show that hard work creates results, and that great things happen when we put our energy and our hearts together!

Finding the Right Instructor

Selecting a private instructor to work with your family is the first step. To get the most out of the lessons, choose a teacher that is a good match in temperament and style with your child. Getting to know the teacher’s expectations and having solid communication in place are also essential. At West Music, we offer one-on-one instruction in our comfortable studios with professional teachers. All teachers have verified professional credentials and go through background checks. Parents can review their biographies, schedules, and policies on our webpage at www.looking4lessons.com. Parents can also learn more about West Music's overall lessons program, including group classes and adult instruction, at www.westmusic.com/lessons.

Keep music an active part of your family routine by investing in private, individual lessons! Not only will your child progress faster, they will reap the many cognitive, social, and emotional benefits that come with learning to play an instrument. Most of all, they will develop a life-long appreciation for music and the arts as they Play now. Play for life!

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About the Author

Chris Eck Lessons DirectorA lifelong teacher and musician, Christopher Eck thrives on sharing creative enrichment with many people.

As the Education Director for West Music, he enjoys connecting students of all ages to meaningful musical experiences every day. As a private guitar and ukulele instructor, he is able to explore his own passion for playing music and to celebrate learning as a way of life. His student-led lessons focus on technical proficiency, applied theory and creative expression.

Chris studied Music Theory and Composition, Classics, Education and Child Development. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Iowa in 2005, with several credentials and certificates along the way.

For many years, Chris worked as an early childhood lead teacher and administrator in the Iowa City area. He has always had an honored place in his work for children and young adults; teaching, mentoring, caregiving and facilitating in schools, libraries, hospitals and homes since 1990. He is a frequent presenter at professional development events for educators in Iowa and the Midwest.

Tags: lessons, beginner musicians, band, orchestra
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Conservatory, Music Education
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Proper Posture Is the Key to Playing for Life
By West Music Company
10/23/2017 5:41:00 AM  

Proper Posture Is the Key to Playing for Life

Almost every instrument requires some repetitive motion and therefore can lead to injury over time. Even young players can injure themselves over the course of just a few months. The good news is that there is one sure-fire way to protect your child from strain and injury, and that is to maintain good posture!


The Elements of Good Posture When Playing an Instrument

Good playing posture goes from head to toe. The guiding principles are:

  • Maintain a solid frame, that way bones can do their work, easing the burden on muscles.
  • Stay relaxed but engaged – not tensed up, but also not limp.

A great way for a student to develop proper posture is to work quite literally from the “bottom” up.


proper postureMusician’s Positioning on the Chair

Musicians in good posture sit forward in their chairs. Exactly how far forward is a matter of comfort and body type. Some musicians are poised right at the chair’s edge, but most have their weight centered a little farther back.


Chairs Have Straight Backs—So Should Musicians

Your child should sit with their chest and shoulders raised to a straight, yet comfortable position. A comfortably straight spine allows hours of play. Stiffness, however, is a recipe for fatigue.


Down Below, Flat Feet Will Go

Keep feet comfortably at rest on the floor.  They do not have to remain frozen like a statue, but having your child regularly resettling into “rest feet” position is helpful in maintaining consistently good posture.


"Coat Hanger" Shoulders

To the greatest extent the instrument allows, music students should keep their shoulders level while playing.  To help visualize this, some musicians like to imagine a coat hanger with a tank top on it: it can sway a little, but if it tilts consistently or sways too far, the shirt falls to the floor.


Keep a Level Head

Remember that the head should face “straight ahead”. Dropping the chin or “turtle-necking” forward are easy, but unhealthy, habits for young musicians to fall into. Encourage your child to make a mental note to regularly check in on how their head and neck are positioned.


proper playing postureInstruments Do Not Charge for Travel: Bring It to You

Once proper posture is attained, new musicians should fit the instrument into the frame they have created, rather than bending and twisting themselves to fit around the instrument. The temptation to lean forward and “meet the instrument halfway” is very strong, but it puts a tremendous strain on the back and neck. Musicians at every level should regularly practice assuming good posture without their instruments, and then gently bring their instruments to their poised, relaxed bodies.

Special Encouragment for Violin and Viola Players

Playing the violin or viola poses special challenges for posture. Learning to hold these instruments while staying true to the principles of good playing posture is not easy! Encourage your child to be patient with the process and to speak up immediately if they ever feel discomfort or strain.


The Payoff of Proper Instrument Positioning: Lifelong Playing

Music is one of a very special few human pursuits that a person can engage in as actively at age 79 as they did at age nine! By helping your child learn and reinforcing the fundamentals of proper posture, you can ensure that a lifetime of satisfaction awaits them.

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Tags: beginner, posture, health
Categories: Conservatory, Music Education
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Decorah Teacher Feature: Brianne Anderson
By West Music Company
10/19/2017 4:33:00 PM  
brianne andersonWest Music Decorah is proud to present the newest member of our teaching team, BRIANNE ANDERSON. As an accomplished flutist and teacher, Brianne Anderson completed a Bachelor of Music degree in flute performance at Iowa State University in 2016. Extensive experience in orchestral, band, and solo performances as well as flute choir and other small ensembles provides Ms. Anderson with a well-rounded approach to flute playing. As a well-travelled musician, Ms. Anderson has performed across the Midwest and toured Europe twice giving performances in Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. In the summer of 2015, she pursued an internship with the National Flute Association, assisting in their Chicago office as well as in Washington D.C. for the annual national convention. As a past mentor in ISU’s learning community Esprit de Corps and treasurer of ISU’s music service fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota, Ms. Anderson prioritizes serving the music community and inspiring young musicians to grow.

Ask an associate today for more information about taking lessons at West Music, or schedule your appointment online at Looking4Lessons.com.

Tags: decorah, flute
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Decorah
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Coralville Teacher Feature: Saul Lubaroff
By West Music Company
10/15/2017 1:53:00 PM  
Saul LubaroffExcelling as a professional saxophonist, clarinetist, and flautist, Saul Lubaroff stands as a central cog in the Eastern Iowa music scene. As a performer of jazz, blues, soul, klezmer, classical, and pop music, Saul is a veteran in some of most successful bands of the area. He performs with The Fez, a 15-piece Steely Dan tribute band, The Johnny Kilowatt Blues Band, and Shade of Blue, a local soul band.

Saul has shared the stage with George Clinton and PFunk, Liquid Soul, Clark Terry, Michael Woolf, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, and Alex Foster of the Saturday Night Live band, and has performed locally with Orchestra Iowa, the Band Salaam (Persian and Mediterranean music), The Blue Band, Brass Transit Authority, local big bands, funk bands, and his own quartet.

Saul is currently accepting new students ages 8 through adult for saxaphone, clarient, and flute lessons at West Music Coralville. He also teaches music composition.

Schedule Your First Lesson with Saul!

Tags: saul lubaroff, The Fez, Johnny Kilowatt Blues Band, Shade of Blue, orchestra iowa,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Cedar Falls October 2017 Teacher Feature: Lora Heit
By West Music Company
10/1/2017 7:12:00 AM  
Lora HeitLora is a piano instructor at West Music Cedar Falls, and she brings nearly 40 years of experience with her to our lesson studios! She began playing the organ in elementary school and continued studying music through high school and college. She obtained her music education degree from the University of Northern Iowa. She previously taught private lessons, was a substitute teacher in the area, and taught music and chorus in local schools as well.

She has always been very involved in church music throughout the years. Since, 2003 she has been directing a church choir that consists of members ages 10-18. They enjoy learning new contemporary music and leading others in services through the
joy of music.

Her favorite thing about teaching is when a student masters something new and she gets to see the joy on their face. She enjoys helping others experience the thrill of learning and guiding them in being able to express themselves through music. She also enjoys performances where her students get to showcase their accomplishments.

This summer, Lora and her husband, Tom, celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. They also traveled to Quebec, Canada and learned some French and history from the area. She enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren who are between the ages of 1 to 5. She also enjoys gardening, riding her bike, and reading.

Learn more about taking lessons with Lora or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or see Lora's webpage and schedule your first class online! 

Tags: Lori Heit, UNI, piano
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls October 2017 Musician of the Month: Evan He
By West Music Company
10/1/2017 6:48:00 AM  

Evan HeEvan is currently in the fourth grade has been studying violin with Andrea Alert for three years. According to Andrea, “Evan has made some significant improvements in his playing. His note reading abilities and musical understanding are growing. He likes to watch and study the teacher playing and is willing to try new things. Besides music, I have witnessed Evan develop into a more confident person. He always has a smile on his face when it is his turn for his lesson!

Evan’s advice to other musicians is to practice, and his personal goal is to play smoothly. Some fun facts about Evan are that he enjoys playing games at home and is good at playing the video game Roblox.

Congratulations, Evan!

Tags: violin, andrea alert, lessons, student
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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How Parents Can Help Their Young Musician
By West Music Company
9/13/2017 4:34:00 PM  

How Parents Can Help Their Young Musician

Learning a musical instrument often represents a child’s first opportunity to discover how a routine of individual practice leads to ever-increasing rewards. For parents, it’s a rare chance to help their child discover a love of music, plus the satisfaction that comes with mastering a difficult new skill. With all the benefits musical training offers in terms of mental, physical, and emotional development, it is no surprise that parents want to “get it right.”

Starting from the Same Page: The Importance of Connecting with the Teacher

Children always struggle when two trusted adults send seemingly contradictory signals. It is critical to connect with your child’s music teacher(s) from day one. Make sure you are delivering consistent messages about goals and practice habits. Discuss any differences of opinion, with the goal of finding common ground so that your child never feels torn.


after music lessonLesson Recap: The Key to a Successful Week of Practice

A child’s first practice session after a lesson is the most important practice of the week. Before that session occurs, get your child talking about the lesson. To the greatest extent possible, let the child be the “expert” as you play the role of curious companion. Helpful questions to ask include:

What do you remember best about the lesson?
What was your favorite thing your teacher told or showed you?
What did your teacher say that made you feel especially good?
What did you share with your teacher that was really important to you?
Do you remember something the teacher asked you to work on that seems like it will be difficult?
Did you and your teacher set any goals for the week?

If your child seems to have forgotten an important aspect of the lesson, try to lead the conversation in an open-ended way: “Did your teacher say something about keeping your fingers curved?”


Setting Up a Designated Practice Space

If possible, set up a “music corner” somewhere in your home, so that practicing becomes a special activity that happens in a special place. Children love any area that is to some degree exclusively theirs; having such a space for music shows how proud you are of your child’s undertaking. Seek their input when decorating the music corner—ideas include inspirational posters, a shelf or colorful box for music books, a smartphone or camera stand to make it easy to record videos to share with friends, and a whiteboard for noting important reminders or logging practice time.


cello girlSharing the Path: Practice Time as Parent-Child Togetherness Time

When you sit with your child during practice time, offer frequent encouragement, pointing out specific improvements you have seen over the last week or two. Once again, use guiding questions to help your child articulate successes and struggles:

What do you like most about that piece?
What part of the piece do you feel like you can play best right now?
What is hardest about playing that piece?
What kind of mood do you think the person who wrote that piece was feeling?
Can you imagine a story that would explain what that piece is about?

If your child needs new challenges for practice sessions, visit our Music, Books, and Resources page together and explore the wide array of sheet music, tools, and more to expand their repertoire.  If you are currently looking for a teacher or extra instruction outside of school music classes, West Music offers classes and individual lessons to families in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.


Focus on the Joy

There is no greater gift you can give your young musician than reminders that music brings people happiness. The sight of your face lighting up at the sound of every note and phrase will be your child’s greatest source of motivation.

Have questions? Need advice? West Music is here for you! Give our music education experts a call at 800-373-2000. 





Tags: practice, practice tips, lessons, young musician, beginner
Categories: Conservatory, Music Education
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Alice Golden - A Teacher and a Friend
By West Music Company
8/28/2017 12:39:00 PM  
Alice GoldenChris Eck is the Director of Music Education at West Music. He worked with Alice Golden for many years before her recent passing. He offers these words in memoriam:

"West Music would like to express what a privilege it was to know and work with Alice. She was a true leader in this educational community, sharing her gifts and expertise with hundreds of lucky people. She was a music teacher for over 30 years, half of which were right here in our Lessons studios at our West Music stores. Before her retirement earlier this year, West Music was a second home to Alice.  We’re so grateful for her incredible partnership in our mission. We will be working closely with her family and colleagues to honor her memory and the legacy of her amazing life. 

On a personal note, like many of you reading this my heart is very heavy with the news of her passing. Alice always had a smile and showed her tremendous heart to everyone she met. I’ve never known a teacher who gave so much caring attention and encouragement! She gave the same love freely to those she worked with, met on the street, talked to at the coffee shop, friends…a uniquely bright and naturally giving person who can never be replaced in this world. We miss and love you, Miss Alice."

Alice F. Golden, 71, of Iowa City, passed away Wednesday, August 23, 2017. Alice was born on July 24, 1946 in Iowa City, the daughter of Delmar and Goldie (Miller) Bender. Alice received her B.A. in vocal music from Goshen College. She taught vocal music, worked as a children’s librarian, and then taught piano to many beloved students at West Music for many years. Alice loved nature. She worked at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center in Wolf Lake, Indiana for many years; Alice taught groups of children about insects, birds, maple syrup gathering, swamps, trees, flowers and all nature in general. She treasured those years. She loved the woods and often took long walks in them, surrounded by nature.

She loved music of all kinds, playing piano, playing French horn, and singing. She loved concerts, plays, musicals, dance and all of the arts. 

Alice was a devoted mother and grandmother. She loved her family and friends deeply. She loved reading, especially children's literature. She loved going to The Java House and was great friends with the baristas there, as well as other friends she met there. From the Manifesto she wrote in 2015, "she loved dogs, friendly people, children, babies, smiles, clouds, blue skies, stormy skies, trees, flowers, grass, making bouquets, good authors, good books, seeing beauty in small things and the grandeur of large things like sunsets and sunrises, songs of childhood, cicadas, spring peepers, holidays, and when people say, 'I love you.'"

Alice is survived by her loving children: Susanna Golden, Kirstin Golden and Peter (Christine) Golden; her three grandchildren: Zoe Rogers, Ethan Maltes and Penelope Golden; her siblings: Ginny (Ken) Rew, John (Cathy) Bender, Les (Kathy) Bender and Laurie Bender; her nephew, Brad (Bridgette) Rew and their child, Madeleine Wehmeyer; and her niece, Molly Rew and her children, Rosalía and Jesús Escalera Rew. Alice is also survived by numerous friends and extended family. She was preceded in death by her parents, Delmar and Goldie Bender. Memorials may be directed to the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. 

Tags: alice golden, chris eck
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Cedar Falls July 2017 Teacher Feature: Maryann "Mary Mo" Hinman
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
maryann mary mo hinman
Maryann "Mary Mo" Hinman started teaching at a young age in high school. “We had a "band buddy" system at Independence High where talented high school students would teach the elementary and middle school students private lessons. At one point I had 16 students! After high school, I taught at the Independence Conservatory for a few years. I've never stopped teaching since. In my later college years I also had the opportunity to teach college freshman trumpet majors once a week and loved that. I love teaching all ages; it will be something I always do on the side no matter what.”
Maryann started in 4th grade playing the cornet and soon switched to a trumpet. It wasn't until her 7th grade year, though that her talent blossomed and she grew in love with music. 
She grew up in Independence, IA and earned her high school diploma. She went to UNI as a music scholarship student studying jazz and classical music performance. Her expected graduation will be in 2018. She is also a guest relations manager at the BlackHawk Hotel in Cedar Falls. 
Maryann’s main band is called "Free Range Medicine" which is mostly a rock band where she plays trumpet and sings. She’s been in several groups in the Cedar Valley and has toured with other groups as well. 
On her days off the hotel and not teaching, she loves to play her horn and the piano. She loves writing and transcribing music. Maryann loves just "fooling around" on the piano as well. Outside of music, she loves making jewelry, playing darts and being on the water whether it's on a boat, pontoon, kayak or canoe. Last, but not least, she loves spending time with friends and family. 
Mary Mo says her favorite thing about teaching is when a student gets excited about music on their own. 
An interesting musical experience she’s had was to play alongside of some very talented musicians throughout the years. “Famous or not, I've been lucky to stand beside many, many of them and share together what we love best. I've had thousands of gigs, and some great stories; Clark Terry kissed me on the cheek, Mike Dillon played a duo with me on his vibraphone with a guitar pedal, I sang "Why can't we be friends?" with Matt Wilson and I've marched  with my trumpet at a festival with WookieFoot. I've taken lessons with famous trumpet teachers and I've met my favorite trumpet player of all time, Wynton Marsalis.”

Tags: maryann hinman, trumpet, horn, brass, teacher, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Des Moines July 2017 Musician of the Month: Channing Rooda
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
Channing RoodaChanning Rooda has been a piano student of Scott Smith for 18 months. She is a junior and homeschooled. Channing also plays the French horn, trumpet, and guitar. Channing loves playing music because “it never really goes the same way twice, so it’s always a challenge. It’s kind of like a puzzle; it’s very satisfying when you figure it out. Also, it’s a great stress reliever, and a skill that never really leaves you. Plus, it can really open doors for you.”

Channing participates in church music and the North Mahaska Jazz Band. They were state champions this year in class 1A. She also gives piano lessons to 12 students. Her advice to other musicians is to practice a lot, don’t get frustrated, and when you want to quit… DON’T.

When not practicing the piano, Channing participates in showing American Quarter Horses nationwide, and she has shown American Kennel Club dog agility, putting a title on her dog. During her free time, Channing reads and writes. English is one of her favorite subjects, taking after her mom who is an English teacher. She even named her horse Wilbur after the pig in “Charlotte’s Web”.

Channing loves classical music, especially Beethoven and Schubert, but she’s recently been listening to jazz musicians like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Scott Smith selected Channing for Musician of the Month because she picks up on new music quickly, and is dedicated to practicing and advancing as a musician. One surprising fact about Channing is that she is a second generation American. Her grandfather emigrated from Holland during WWII.

Congrats, Channing!!

Tags: piano, lessons, student, teacher, Scott Smith
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery
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