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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: N/A
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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Cedar Rapids July 2017 Muisician of the Month: Christine Newlin
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
adult piano student
Christine Newlin is an adult piano student of Sara Miller at West Music Cedar Rapids. She was nominated for Musician of the Month because she has finished book 1 for piano and has been studying piano with Sara Miller for only 4 months!
Christine works at Aegon Assessment in Cedar Rapids. Her musical goal is to learn a song she can play with her husband, her eight year old daughter Kate, and her six year old son Owen. Some advice Christine would like to impart to others wanting to learn an instrument is, “It is never too late to start. It is very relaxing and uses parts of the brain that you don’t normally use.”
Her interests include reading, traveling, hiking and yoga. Something that might surprise someone to learn about Christina is that she sang in the Afro-American choral ensemble at Indiana University when she was in college.
Congratulations, Christine!

Tags: piano, lesson, student, teacher, instructor, Sara Miller
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids July 2017 Musician of the Month: Sophia Spinner
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
sophia spinner flute student
Sophia Spinner has been taking flute lessons from Alice Lindsey for about 6 months. She has just finished 6th grade and is going into 7th.  She was nominated for musician of the month because she plays several different instruments including violin and piano and plays all three really well in a short amount of time.

Some advice Sophia would like to give other aspiring musicians is to practice every day and never give up. She loves the fact that she can inspire other people to play an instrument even though they may not know how. Sophia play flute and percussion in a home school band for one year and violin in orchestra for four years.

She loves to listen to K-Pops bands from Korea. BTS is her favorite. She is interested in martial arts: tae kwon do and hapkido. She also likes practicing with martial arts weapons. Her favorite performer is BTS, Got7 and NCT. She also listens to Lindsey Sterling on violin and August D.

What someone might be surprised to find out about Sophia is that in her senior year of high school she will be moving to Korea.

Congratulations, Sophia! Great job!

Tags: Alice Lindsey, lessons, student, teacher, flute, woodwind
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Coralville July 2017 Musician of the Month: Jayce Norpel
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
jayce norpel piano student
Jayce is going into the 4th grade, and has been studying piano with Sarah Beckelheimer in the West Music Lessons program for 2 years. His teacher has this to say about his lessons:

“Jayce comes with a positive attitude regularly. He consistently practices and challenges himself.  He is a joy to teach!”

He loves having a teacher to work with him on his musical goals! He also hopes to add guitar and ukulele to his instrument list. His favorite music is Kids Bop (Greatest Hits). When asked for advice to other musicians, Jayce wisely suggests that you “practice at least 20 minutes per day.”  

Jayce also enjoys basketball and Legos. He does not like soup.

Congratulations, Jayce! Great job!

Tags: Sarah Beckelheimer, coralville, piano, lessons, student
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville
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Des Moines July 2017 Teacher Feature: Mark Willie
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
mark willie guitar lesson
Mark began playing guitar in 1997 and took private lessons for five years before being accepted into Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. While at Berklee he continued to take private lessons for another four years from instructors Chris Buono, Joe Stump, and Shawn Michaud.  He graduated Cum Laude with his Bachelor's Degree in Music Business with special emphasis on Management. While at Berklee he studied a variety of music areas including: Harmony, Ear-training/Solfege, Counterpoint, Traditional Harmony & Composition, Conducting, as well as a multitude of courses in Business and Music-Business. He also took elective courses specializing in the music of Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schonberg.

While at Berklee he played guitar in the "Dream Theater ensemble" (an ensemble focusing on the music of Dream Theater) and took both the "Shred lab I" and "Shred lab II" taught by Joe Stump.

After graduating from Berklee he moved to Huntington Beach, CA to complete his internship at Prosthetic Records (All That Remains, Lamb of God, Animals As Leaders).  Shortly after that he became tour manager for Cattle Decapitation (Metal Blade Records) for two summer tours. 

NEW: In 2010 he played guitar and toured for Serpents (Artery Management).  He left Serpents to join Systems and helped write the 2012 EP Terrasomnium along with Chaney Crabb of Entheos (Artery Recordings).

Mark's band Sequoyah just released their debut album, Perception, in November 2016 and is available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and Bandcamp and the music is available for streaming through Spotify and Pandora.

Mark has been teaching guitar and music theory for the past seven years and covers a variety of styles- (Blues, Jazz, Classical, Rock, and Metal) as well as a variety of techniques such as tapping, string-skipping, legato, sweep-picking, etc. and a wide variety of music theory topics ranging from beginner to advanced.

Tags: mark willie, des moines, urbandale, guitar, lesson, teacher, electric
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery
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Des Moines July 2017 Teacher Feature: Esther Lim
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
Esther Lim piano teacherEsther Lim is a graduate from Drake University with a Bachelor's degree of Music in Piano Performance. Though she began playing the piano at age 6 with a former instructor, her talent became recognized at 14 years of age, studying with Yamaha artist and Drake Professor of Piano, Dr. Nicholas Roth. 

Originally from Des Moines, she appeared as a collaborative pianist from the age of 10 with instrumentalists and vocalists from different institutions and schools throughout the capital city. She has performed as a soloist in Drake Meets HOROWITZ! in 2013, the Keys to Excellence Series, Drake Honors Recital, and master classes for internationally acclaimed artists for Asaf Zohar (Buchmann-Mehta School of Music and Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance), Alan Chow (Eastman School of Music), Lori Sims (Western Michigan), and Daniel Shapiro (Cleveland Institute of Music), among others. As an active pianist in the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, Lim performed in the Esterházy Palace Empiresaal (Empire Hall) and the Haydn Konservatorium Konzertsaal (Haydn Conservatory Concert Hall). In 2016, Lim has also performed in Beijing, China at Minzu University and the following year, she has appeared as a performer for the American Liszt Society.

Following her one-year hiatus after graduation, she hopes to move forward and pursue graduate studies in Piano Performance. Esther accepts students age 5+ at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

Tags: esther lim, des moines, urbandale, piano, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery
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Cedar Rapids July 2017 Teacher Feature: Les Ohlhauser
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
Les Ohlhauser
Les Ohlhauser has been teaching guitars privately for 15 years. He started teaching here at West Music Cedar Rapids in March of 2017. He started playing guitar at the age of 13. His father taught him a few chords on an acoustic guitar and he bought his first electric guitar shortly after that. It was a red Memphis-not exactly the Cadillac of guitars but it sure did the trick!
Les has a background in music theory from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and took lessons from Pat Smith and Steve Armstrong. He has also played thousands of gigs in all manners of genres. When he is not letting his fingers cruise around the fretboard he works as a bookseller. “Do what you love?” I’ve got that covered, he says.
Currently he plays solo acoustic performances and works with a band that writes their own obnoxious music. Starting this fall he will be playing with a band in Cedar Rapids that focuses on pop/funk/dance tunes. It’s a genre he has not played live much so for him it will be a rare treat and something new!
A past interesting performance his top one he says was,” playing with his old band called Nuclear Biologist Rocket Surgeons and they played in an art gallery”. It was full on experimental freak out music (9 minute songs about Riboflavin anyone?) With thousand dollar paintings all around them it made quite the experience. Surreal but cool.
His hobbies include: reading, cooking, jigsaw puzzles, hiking, gardening and of course playing musical instruments every chance he gets! A recent travel experience includes flying to Ireland with his wife which was a magical trip. He also travels a lot to catch live shows of his favorite bands. His favorite thing about teaching is that he loves seeing someone go from not understanding something to understanding. That moment the student “gets it” and the satisfaction that follows. I love it!”
One of his most musical/educational experiences includes playing in a live karaoke band in Chicago. Amazing band members, 120 song set list and new songs every week- the toughest gig he has ever played! Because it was the singers choosing the songs at random, we never played the same set twice, often completely different sets for a few nights in a row. Truly a test of chops, memory and organization. It was the kind of trail by fire you can’t get anywhere but the stage.
You can find Les on the internet at www.lesohlhauser.com and at www.facebook.com/lesohlhauserguitar.

Tags: guitar, lessons, Les Ohlhauser
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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