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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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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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Do You and Your Coworkers Rock? West Music Sponsors CBJ’s Battle of the Bands
By West Music Company
6/6/2017 3:56:00 PM  
Corporate Battle of the BandsIs your office mate a rock star in disguise? You might be surprised!

West Music is proud to be sponsoring CBJ’s 2nd Annual Corporate Battle of the Bands. This contest showcases the musical talents of employees in Eastern Iowa. Businesses are encouraged to form their own bands and compete for the tile of Best Corporate Band!

This is West Music’s second year sponsoring CBJ’s event. While West Music employees are not eligible to participate (too many pros at our company), the event fits with our larger mission to encourage people of all ages and occupations to “Play now. Play for life.”

CBJ will be accepting band nominations through Monday, June26, 2017. Then, six bands will be chosen to compete at a live competition from 6-9 p.m. on August 24, 2017 at Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City.

$1000 grand prize Similar to American Idol, the bands perform and then receive feedback from a distinguished panel of judges. West Music’s own Alex Beamer will be one of the judges, along with Rob Cline of Hancher and Tim Hankewich of Orchestra Iowa.

The winning band will receive $1,000 credit to spend at West Music, $1,000 to give to their favorite charity, a traveling trophy and bragging rights! They will also be invited to headline CBJ’s Coolest Places to Work event in September.

The CBJ’s competition has a few simple requirements: at least half of the band’s members must work at the company the band represents, and the lead singer must work at the company. All music styles are encouraged. Last year music styles ranged from pop and country to alt rock and reggae!

To nominate your band or buy tickets to the event, go to corridorbusiness.com/events and click on Corporate Battle of the Bands.

Photos and video courtesy of Corridor Business Journal (CJB). Additional sponsors of this event include Shive Hattery Architecture and Engineering and Big Grove Brewing & Taproom.

Tags: contest, iowa, cbj, battle of the bands
Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion, West Music Cedar Falls, West Music Coralville, Contests
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Cedar Falls June 2017 Musician of the Month: Ryan Lothrop
By West Music Company
6/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Ryan 6 years old piano
Ryan is a dedicated and enthusiastic learner at the age of just five years old. He started with Virginia Lee seven months ago when his feet still dangled off the bench.

Ryan rarely misses his weekly assignments. He practices daily and enjoys his music. In a short period of time, he learned to be able to read music, which allowed him to learn more music quickly.

Virginia appreciates Ryan’s effort to learn and dedication to practice, and also his parents for encouraging him to do well.

Congratulations, Ryan! Great Job!

Tags: piano, lessons, virginia lee
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls April 2017 Musician of the Month: Aveinda Rusk
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Aveinda Rusk is a student at Denver Elementary. She has been studying the violin with Andrea Alert for two and a half years. She loves to play the violin because of the sound that it makes. Her advice to other musicians is to not overthink what you are playing.

Aveinda plays both the violin and oboe, and her goal is to learn the viola and cello too. Her favorite musician Lindsey Sterling. Something that might surprise others to hear is that she has five sisters. When she is not making music, Aveinda can be found playing Minecraft, Dragon City, and playing with her sisters and friends.

Way to go, Aveinda!

Tags: lesson, cedar falls, violin, Andrea Alert
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls December 2016 Musician of the Month: Emma Schaffer
By West Music Company
12/1/2016 8:20:00 AM  
Emma Schaffer is currently a senior in high school. She has been taking piano lessons with Virginia Lee for the past two years. Emma says she plays music because it clears her head and it makes her happy. She plays up to two hours every day because it just makes her feel good!

Emma plays both the piano and guitar, and her goal is to learn the ukulele before high school graduation. Emma also volunteers at Covenant Hospital and is a host at LJ’s. Her favorite musicians are the bands Twenty One Pilots and the Chainsmokers. Something that might surprise others to hear is that she is pretty good at playing by ear and memorizing music compared to reading music. Her advice to other musicians is to practice and find a teacher who motivates you to improve.

Virginia Lee appreciates Emma’s positive personality and constant smile. She is prepared for her lessons so accomplishes quite a lot in a short amount of time. Emma’s motivation and enthusiasm for learning also inspire her as a piano teacher to keep her lessons fresh and new every day.

Way to go, Emma!

Tags: piano, lessons, Virginia Lee, cedar falls,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls November 2016 Musician of the Month: Autumn Borkowitz
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Autumn Borkowitz has studied violin and piano at West Music for five and a half years with her teacher Louann Flaherty.  She is a homeschooled 8th grader who loves music, reading, playing games, crafts, and sports. She participates in Northern Iowa Junior Orchestra and Hoover Orchestra.

Her teacher has this to say about working with Autumn:

“Autumn loves music and is always willing to try different styles. Autumn comes to lesson prepared and pays attention to details in the music.”

Her advice to other musicians is to “do the best you can do and don’t compare yourself to other musicians.” She loves instrumental music and her musical goal is to go to All-State! She also enjoys old TV shows, like I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, and Wonder Woman.

Congratulations, Autumn! Keep it up!

Tags: lessons, violin, teacher, conservatory, piano, Louann Flaherty
Categories: West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls June 2016 Musician of the Month: Frances Jackson
By West Music Company
6/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Frances Jackson is a student in the studio of Andrea Alert at West Music Cedar Falls. She has been with Andrea for one year, taking lessons on the violin.

Andrea has nominated Frances because she plays with a joyful heart, is not afraid to start new pieces, and loves to compose her own music.

Frances plans to play in school orchestra, and also plans to learn the ukulele and piano.  What Frances loves most about music is that it is something she can share with her brother who plays the saxophone. Frances' advice to other musicians is, "If the music is hard to learn, play something easy that you enjoy to play, give your mom a violin lesson, then go back to the difficult piece and do it slowly." 

Frances' favorite musician is Niccolo Paganini.

Frances also loves to write and illustrate her own stories, play Legos with her brother, spend time with friends, and downhill ski. Something about Frances that may surprise you is that she has a miniature Rex bunny named Prissie who is all white and has beautiful, big black eyes. 

Congratulations on all your hard work, Frances!

Tags: lessons, Andrea Alert, violin,
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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Cedar Falls May 2016 Teacher Feature: Virginia Lee
By West Music Company
5/1/2016 8:05:00 AM  
Virginia is a graduate from the University of West Chester in Pennsylvania with a BM in piano performance. She has been teaching piano lessons since 1990 working with both children and adults at varying levels of playing.

Virginia’s teaching philosophy focuses on fostering each student’s potential in technical development, diverse music appreciation, and self confidence through performance. With her 26 year teaching experience, she actively researches new pedagogical methods to enhance and individually tailor the learning experience for piano students of all ages.

While Virginia enjoys music of all forms, her favorite composer is Beethoven. Apart from piano, Virginia enjoys gardening, reading, exercising, and traveling to experience different cultures.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Virginia Lee through May!

Tags: virginia lee, piano, cedar falls
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Falls
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