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The West Music Blog
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West Music’s Nancy Cree Keyboard Recitals to Honor Prominent Composer
By Tina Chapman
5/17/2017 12:53:00 PM  

Robert D. VandallCoralville, IA – May 17, 2017 – West Music will honor prominent composer Robert D. Vandall at their Two Grand Spring Recitals this weekend at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts. The recitals feature students of West Music based Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Centers. Students from age 4 to adult will be performing including special recognition for our students graduating from high school.

Prolific composer Robert D. Vandall passed away in February at age 72 following a long and courageous battle with cancer. Vandall published more than 500 works under Alfred Publishing. In addition to operating a private studio in Ohio with his wife Karen, Vandall presented and taught workshops in more than 30 states for many years including many locally at West Music.

Two of this weekend’s series of recitals will feature works by Vandall. Recital times for the Vandall-centered recitals are May 20 at 1:00 p.m. and May 21 at 4:30 p.m. both at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts, 1301 5th Street in Coralville, Iowa. The events are free and open to the public.

“His true passion was composing. He will be missed all over the world for his amazing talent,” said Tina Chapman, Supervisor and Head Teacher of Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Center at West Music. “We will keep his spirit alive by playing and sharing his music. It is our honor to present several of his pieces in this weekend’s recitals.”


     Nancy Cree Keyboard Logo 


About Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Centers

The Nancy Cree Keyboard Learning Center Program seeks to open as many musical doors as possible to its students. From traditional acoustic piano to the newest electronic technology, the instruction seeks to introduce and excite the student to a variety of musical possibilities. We take a broad range approach to the varied musical traditions such as classical, jazz, folk and popular music. Music is learned, then performed among family and friends in a variety of social settings. Students develop self-confidence, stage presence and have fun performing together in a cooperative environment. To learn more or sign up for Nancy Cree or any West Music classes visit westmusic.com/lessons.

West Music Logo

About West Music

West Music is a third generation locally owned and family operated business. For over 75 years, West Music has been the area’s leading partner in music education, specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offering music instruction, repair, and music therapy services. With seven 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. For more information, visit westmusic.com or call 1-800-373-2000.


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Tags: piano recital, lessons, Coralville, Alfred Publishing
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Coralville, Press Releases, piano
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70th Birthday Surprise for Mom
By West Music Company
5/3/2017 4:25:00 PM  

Customer Becky Steenhoek shares his story of planning the perfect surprise birthday gift for his mother, a life-long piano player. Dennis and his family lead his mom on a scavenger hunt that ended at her very own grand piano at West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery. 


birthday grand pianoBy: Becky Steenhoek

For our mother's 70th birthday celebration, the planning started months in advance, as we knew we wanted to do something extra special to celebrate her big day. Our mother has always been the one to go above and beyond to do things for others, so for once, we wanted to surprise her and make her feel special.
Music has always been her passion. Playing the piano and organ, singing, directing church choirs, composing music and creating beautiful Easter and Christmas cantatas, music has been a huge part of her life, and something that continues to bring her great joy. But the one thing she had always (secretly) wanted was her very own grand piano, which became the inspiration for her 70th birthday surprise.

birthday grand piano
Dad spent 6 months planning for Mom’s big day. After doing some research on his own, Dad revealed to us kids that he wanted to get Mom a grand piano for her birthday. Over the next five months, Dad enlisted the help of Store Manager Jeff Musel at West Music, who not only taught Dad a lot about pianos, but also was an integral part in helping us create a magical day for Mom. While Dad talked pianos with Jeff, my brother (Brian), sisters (Julie and Amy), and I (Becky) plotted and planned the surprise.

After coordinating airfare and travel plans for siblings who lived out of state, we created a birthday scavenger hunt that began in our hometown of Pella, and ended in Urbandale at West Music, where Mom would be welcomed by Jeff and a showroom filled with grand pianos. At each "stop" during the scavenger hunt, she was greeted by one of us and given a clue to her next destination, all of which had some sort of "grand piano" related innuendo. Throughout the day, the scavenger hunt led Mom to the Marriott Hotel on Grand Avenue in downtown Des Moines to the Dueling Piano Bar in West Des Moines, to the White House Black Market store at Jordan Creek Mall, and of course to the final destination, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery, where there were seven grand pianos with balloons tied to each of them, one of which our mom would get to pick out and bring home.

Needless to say, the entire weekend was full of fun and surprises, and it's something our family will never forget. It was a very special day, and a big part of that is because of the people at West Music, who were so helpful and accommodating throughout the entire process. From Jeff decorating the pianos with balloons to Tanner playing "Happy Birthday" when our mom walked through the door, they really were the cherry on top of a perfect day. Thank you Jeff, Tanner and West Music for being a part of making a dream come true for our mom. I only wish you could see the way she smiles every time she sits down to play at her very own Yamaha Grand piano!


Thank you Becky for letting us be part of this incredible day! Follow us on Facebook for more stories and suppries like these: facebook.com/westmusic


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Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, West Music Piano Gallery, piano
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Piano Types for The Home
By West Music Company
4/6/2017 1:34:00 PM  

Whether you are starting to think about taking piano lessons, have been playing for a few years, or are an expert pianist, having the proper piano that suits your needs is vital. With all of the options that are available, it can be challenging to find the right instrument for your level and your budget. Let us help guide you in finding a piano that fits your needs.


Vertical Pianos

vertical piano

A very common type of piano for the home or studio is the vertical piano. They are called vertical pianos, because of their vertical strings, and are particularly known for their height, which ranges from three to five feet. Due to their cost effectiveness and space efficiency (they typically are no wider than 5’), verticals are a popular choice for homes, churches, schools and music studios.

Common Types of Vertical Pianos Are:

  • Spinet – 36” to 40” in height
  • Console – 40” to 43” in height
  • Studio – 44” to 48” in height
  • Upright – 45” and above

The larger piano, the larger soundboard, and it’s the soundboard that create tone quality. Therefore, Console and Studio pianos are the most common types of pianos found in homes. They are extremely durable so they can be a good choice around children.

Rarely manufactured today,  upright pianos are the tallest of the vertical pianos, with a typical height ranging from four to five feet tall. This piano was very popular at the turn of the century and is what you usually see in older homes and long lineages of families.

 

Grand Pianos

grand piano

Horizontal pianos also referred to as grand pianos. They got their name because of their large size and the fact that their strings are placed horizontally. Grand pianos range in size from four feet long all the way up to nine feet long and produce a very fine tone. Many professional pianists or performers enjoy them for their responsive key action and their spectacular sound.

There Are Six Kinds of Grand Pianos:

  • Petite Grand – under 5’ in length
  • Baby Grand – 5’ to 5’5” in length
  • Medium Grand – 5’ 6” to 5’ 9” in length
  • Parlor / Living Grand – 5’ 10” to 6’ 9” in length
  • Semi-Concert / Ballroom Grand – 6’ 10” to 7’ 10” in length
  • Concert Grand - 8’ 11” and longer

If you are looking for a grand piano for your home, a popular choice is the baby grand. These pianos have amazing sound quality, are extremely aesthetically pleasing, and don't take up a ton of space. Some baby grands are meticulously hand-crafted and can take up to 12 months to produce. They are also affordable but still have the rich sound you want from a grand piano.

 

Digital Pianos

digital

A compact and cost-efficient type of piano is the digital piano. Digital pianos have only been around for the past 30 years or so, but they have come a long way from when they were first introduced. Today, they have excellent sound and can even have gravity-based, spring-free action to feel like a grand piano.

Digital pianos are very versatile and can be a good choice for beginners or professionals. They cost less, weigh less, and do not have to be tuned. They also can be plugged into headphones, which can be very convenient in small houses or apartments.

 

Contact West Music Piano Division

Whether you are just starting to learn how to play the piano, or have been performing for years, having the correct type of piano that fits your needs can make all the difference in playing. Choosing the right piano is a complex and important decision that should not be rushed.

Feel free to stop by your local West Music store to test out your options personally. We offer a wide variety of pianos - vertical, grand, digital, and even used models - and have knowledgeable and helpful piano associates to assist you. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to see all our different available models, please call West Music at 800-373-2000 or head to our piano website at pianos.westmusic.com.

 


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Dry Winter Equals Dry Pianos
By Nelda Witting
2/7/2017 8:32:00 AM  

Piano maintenance advice and tips by Nelda Wittig, West Music Piano Consultant.

Piano Care

You may have just made an investment in a piano or you have had one for years. Learn how to properly maintain your piano in the Midwest where temperatures dip and humidy is difficult to keep level. Since 85% of a piano is made of wood, it is important that your piano keeps a consistent humidity level between 40-50%. Just like a living tree that responds to the environment, the wood in your piano will respond to the ever changing environment in your home.

When the humidity inside your home drops below the ideal of 40-50% humidity, you may notice some changes in the piano—some minor; some costly.

Wooden action parts shrink when they become too dry, and they become loose and start to rattle and make noise.  This puts early wear on your action and repairs in your future!

Cracks may appear in the soundboard (the heart of a piano), or on the bridges, or in the pin block.  Any of these cracks can be a costly fix.

Pitch and tone will fluctuate with the dry environment. 

What’s the solution? A humidifier system can be installed in your upright or grand piano and will keep the soundboard area constant. We suggest installing a dual system which will remove excess moisture in the air and will also add moisture if needed. You may want to also purchase a hygrometer to keep in or nearby your piano to have a continuous readout of humidity. Your piano will thank you!

Our experts at West Music are available to install a humidifier system into almost any piano, or answer any you might have about the care of your instrument. Contact your local West Music store for more information.

Learn more about West Music's piano galleries and services: pianos.westmusic.com


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Steinway Extravaganza 2016 Featuring Anderson and Roe
By West Music Company
10/8/2016 8:00:00 AM  



Join us for a week of fun and celebration of Steinway & Sons pianos!

Please mark your calendars for October 9th – October 15 and get ready for this year’s Steinway Extravaganza! We are pleased to announce this year that we will back to our roots, and hosting a large portion of events at the University of Iowa School of Music in downtown Iowa City. We are very proud to be able to help introduce the School of Music to our local musical communities.

As always, the Extravaganza will feature a series of concerts and recitals highlighting our wonderful University of Iowa piano faculty and your students. This year, we are honored to host three very special opportunities to hear internationally renowned Steinway artists, Anderson and Roe! They will perform on Friday, October 14 at 7:30pm. Find out more about this dynamic duo at andersonroe.com.

This year’s calendar of events:

Sunday, October 9
  • 3:00pm – The University of Iowa piano faculty in concert presenting Bach’s “8 hands, 4 pianos” at the Music Building Concert Hall.
Thursday, October 13
  • 7:00pm – Anderson and Roe Meet and Greet Opportunity at West Music Coralville. Meet the artists, purchase memorabilia, like signed CDs, and experience an intimate concert from Anderson and Roe incorporating the new Steinway player piano system, Spirio.
Friday, October 14
  • 10:30am – Piano Pedagogy Workshop at the University of Iowa School of Music Building.
  • 7:30pm – Anderson and Roe in Concert at the University of Iowa School Music Building Concert Hall.
Saturday, October 15
  • 10:30am – Master class with Anderson and Roe and University of Iowa piano faculty at the School of Music Building.
  • 1:00pm – Informal student recital at the Senate Chamber in the Old Capitol.
  • 2:30pm – Formal/advanced student recital at the Senate Chamber in the Old Capitol.


We will have a large selection of Steinway and Sons, Boston, and Essex pianos displayed at West Music Coralville all week with special-event pricing!


Tickets for Anderson and Roe in Concert are $15/adults and $5/students and are available through the Hancher Box Office.

Purchase Tickets Here

 


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Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, West Music Coralville, Press Releases, piano
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Urbandale December 2013 Musician of the Month: Jaida Mitchell
By West Music Conservatory
11/26/2013 9:13:00 AM  

Jaida MitchellJaida Mitchell has studied piano with Mary Fitzgerald for 1.5 years. She just finished her Faber Piano Adventure 2A Lesson book! She attends Beaver Creek Elementary and is in 4th grade. Her musical goals include continuing to play the piano, and learning guitar, drums, and violin! Her other hobbies include gymnastics, dance, reading, and arts and crafts. She comes from a musical family, where her dad plays guitar and her grandma plays piano!

Congratulations, Jaida!


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Tags: Jaida Mitchell, Urbandale Musician of the Month, Des Moines Piano Gallery
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Piano Gallery, piano
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